Home > China & WTO > Speeches & Statements
Statement by H.E. Vice Minister LONG Yongtu, Head of the Chinese Delegation, at the Sixteenth Session of the Working Party on China (Geneva, 4 July 2001)
Mr. Chairman,

I am pleased to lead the Chinese delegation to the 16th Session of the Working Party on China's Accession to the WTO.

Under the outstanding leadership of the Chairman and with the full support of the Secretariat, we have reached full consensus on the major remaining issues during this Session through the joint efforts of all parties concerned. Thus, we have completed the substantial negotiations at this Session, which will become a turning point in the long process of China's WTO accession.

Mr. Chairman,

Six days from today, China's accession negotiations to the multilateral trading system will enter the 15th year. During this 15-year historical process, and in this building and at some other places in the world, we have discussed numerous issues and texts, encountered differences and difficulties, experienced frustration and bewilderment and also shared the happiness for the consensus and agreements reached. When we concentrate on the details of the negotiations, we may often ignore the significance of this process itself. Now, when we see the light at the end of the tunnel is becoming more and more close to us, we have full reason to pull ourselves out of these details temporarily and to have a look of the picture we have been drawing together. China, with one-fourth of the world population, has demonstrated to the world by the protracted negotiations in the past 15 years that China is unswervingly implementing the basic national policy of reform and opening-up. The protracted negotiations are not solely for the accession to the WTO, more importantly, we believe that China's accession will facilitate China's reform and opening-up. The historic experience has shown to us that adhering to reform and to opening-up is absolutely the only way for a country to develop itself and to make its people realize happiness and prosperity. Certainly, China's WTO accession is also in the interest of all WTO Members as well as the multilateral trading system represented by the WTO. Since China's accession benefits China and the WTO Members, there is no reason to doubt whether China would firmly implement its commitments made in the negotiations.

I'm confident that we would not have to wait for another 15 years before the history proves the significance of the efforts made here for China and for the rest of the world.

Mr. Chairman,

As we have emphasized consistently at various occasions in the past, although great progress has been made on China's economic development in the past two decades, we still firmly believe that China is a developing country. The position we have taken to accede to the WTO as a developing country is not only a reflection of the actual economic level of China at the present stage, but also our political choice. It has been one of the basic principles we stick to in the negotiations of the past 15 years. However, we have taken a pragmatic attitude towards the various treatments for the developing countries as embodied in the WTO agreements and practices.. We have made specific commitments in different areas in light of our national situation, development level and capacity to implement these commitments.

In some important areas, we insist on undertaking obligations in consistency with our own development level. We have rejected the request to reduce our average tariff level to that of developed countries and insisted that China's average tariff level should be comparable to the average level of the developing countries. In service areas, we insisted that we can not offer to open our market as a developed country and we can only base our commitments on the degree of market opening of the developing countries.

In some areas, however, where China has already had the capability to implement the obligations as all WTO Members, we deem not necessary for China to enjoy preferential treatments to the developing countries as provided for in the relevant WTO agreements. For instance, the TRIPS Agreement provides a 5-year transitional period for developing countries. Since the Chinese government has been working hard to raise the IPR protection level by improving the legal system and enhancing law-enforcement, we have already obtained the capability of implementing the TRIPS Agreement fully. We, therefore, decided not to insist on the access to the transitional period. However, when we noted some developing countries are requesting for an extended transitional period due to their limitation on IPR protection, we support their request because of we believe that their request is reasonable. This is the approach that we have taken to deal with this matter-the approach of addressing different issues according to their specific situations.

Mr. Chairman,

After its accession to the WTO, China is determined to play a positive and constructive role in this organization. China supports the launching of a new round of multilateral trade negotiations, in order to establish an open and fair world trading system and an equitable world economic order. We maintain that in the new round of negotiations, the interests of all countries, developing counties in particular, should be fully taken into account. All parities should join hands to handle complicated contradictions and meet all challenges in a pragmatic, balancing and creative spirit, so as to maintain the vigor and vitality of the multilateral trading system.

Mr. Chairman,

After going through this long negotiation process, we know it is still not the time for celebration, and there is still a lot of work before us. The Chinese government supports the early convening of the 17th Session of the Working Party.. I'm planning to stay in Geneva together with some of my colleagues, to prepare and participate in the next Session held on July 16.. I hope that, under your leadership, we could finally conclude our preparation of all the legal documents on China's accession to the WTO at that time.

Mr. Chairman,

Finally, I would like to, on behalf of the Chinese government, to express our appreciation to you, to Mr.. Ravier, to the Chairmen of the plurilatral groups, to all the members of the Working Party as well as to the Secretariat. And we would like to express our sincere gratitude to all the delegates who have given their understanding and support to China in the negotiation process.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.


[ Suggest To A Friend ]
       [ Print ]