17 septembre 2001
Meeting of the Working Party on the accession of China
Statement by H.E. Vice Minister LONG Yongtu, Head of the Chinese Delegation, at the eighteenth session of the Working Party on China
The 18th Session of the Working Party on China is soon coming to an end. Today is a memorable day of importance. It marks the final conclusion of negotiations on China's WTO accession, and the Working Party that has been established for 14 and half years will complete its historical mission.
This Session has adopted all the legal documents on China's accession thanks to the joint efforts of the Working Party members. China will soon become a WTO Member after necessary legal procedures. To achieve this goal, we have made protracted and arduous efforts. Everybody present today has good reason to be proud of our work, as we are part of a historical event, an event which will bring a country with one-fourth of the world population into the multilateral trading system which takes the promotion of the world trade and economic development as its major goal.
I would like to, on behalf of the Chinese Government, to express our sincere gratitude to the cooperative spirit of the Working Party members in the negotiations. My special gratitude first goes to you, Mr. Chairman, your strong leadership and the spirit of tenacity has made this Marathon-like negotiation a success. I would also express my thanks to Mr. Mike Moore, Director-General of the WTO, to the former Director-Generals of GATT and the WTO, Mr. Dunkel, Mr. Sutherland and Mr. Ruggiero, to the officials of the Secretariat, in particular Mr. Ravier, Mr. Hussain, Mr. Gertler, Mr. Peter Milthorp, Mr. Adlung, Mrs. Denby Probst, as well as to all the people who have contributed their hard work for China's accession. In the meantime, I would also thank all my Chinese colleagues who have participated and made important contributions to this process, especially my predecessors, Mr. Shen Jueren, Mr. Tong Zhiguang and Mr. Gu Yongjiang. Without their efforts, it would be impossible to achieve today's goal.
Here, I would like to give a special thanks to the members of the US delegation. After the terrorist attack in the United States on 11 September, Mr. Bader and his colleagues overcame many difficulties and managed to stay in Geneva working with us. They have made important contributions for the final success of this key Session of the Working Party.
Just as President Jiang Zemin pointed out recently that WTO accession is a strategic decision made by the Chinese Government under economic globalization and is in line with China's reform and opening-up policy and the goal of establishing a socialist market economic system. The achievements made in China's reform and opening-up process have provided conditions and possibilities for China's participation into the multilateral trading system. And on the other hand, the efforts made by China for its WTO accession have greatly accelerated the reform and opening-up process in China.
The history of the past 15 years is the history of China's advancing toward market economic system and of China's gradually adopting international rules. It is the history of China's continuous effort to accelerate its opening to the outside world. It is the history of China's gradually deepening its participation into the process of economic globalization. China has substantially reduced its tariff levels for many times, eliminated over-whelming majority of its non-tariff measures, gradually opened its service sectors, abolished the mandatory plan for imports and exports, eliminated export subsidies, established its market-based pricing mechanism, unified the exchange system, realized the convertibility of RMB under current account in international transactions, unified taxation system and provided national treatment to imported product. Many proposals we discussed here in the past have become realities in China. The work we have accomplished today will ensure that this process will continue in a stable and predictable manner. The 1000-page document in front of us as a result of our painstaking negotiations will become the timeframe for China's opening-up in the years to come and will provide the legal basis for China's commitment to international rules.
The outcome of China's accession to the WTO will be marked with the feature of a “win-win” and “all-win” for China as well as for the world. As for the rest of world, after China's accession, the great potential of China's market will be gradually translated into actual purchasing power, so as to provide a huge open market to all countries and regions in the world. This would be an important contribution to be made by China to the mankind. As for China, it will further improve the market economic system to be in line with the current international rules and the principles of the WTO. China will, in light of the WTO principle of market opening on reciprocal basis, strength its economic and technological cooperation with all the WTO Members including developing members. China's economic reform towards market economy and its policy of further opening-up will greatly accelerate China's modernization drive and enhance its ability to participate into international economy.
When you were appointed as the Chairman of the Working Party in March 1987, someone once said that you might be on that post for more than 10 years. In retrospect, he is indeed a man of prophecy. The complexity and difficulty of this process are beyond the imagination of almost everybody. It has been an unprecedented challenge to China and to the multilateral trading system to bring a developing country in transition from planned economy to market economy into the multilateral trading system. The Chinese leaders have courageously faced up this challenge with vision and wisdom and they have demonstrated China's confidence and persistence to undertake reform and opening-up. Their leadership has been the key to the success of the negotiation process.
As a Member, China will be new to the WTO. However, we are not unfamiliar with the rules of the game of the multilateral trading system any more thanks to the accession negotiations in the past 15 years. We believe once China is in the WTO, the WTO will have an important new player who will play a positive and constructive role. I would like to take this opportunity to reiterate that while enjoying its rights, China will strictly abide by WTO rules and conscientiously implement its commitments in accordance with the principle of balance between rights and obligations. We will make every contribution for the strengthening of the multilateral trading system in economic development.
The 15-year negotiation is indeed a long process. However, it is only a blink of eyes comparing with the 5000-year history of China. Looking back the history in the past 15 years, we are pleased to see that we have finally arrived at the end point today after overcoming numerous difficulties and frustrations. But this is only the end of a beginning--the end of the beginning for a long historical process. As we have successfully ended this important stage of beginning, we are more confident that we can achieve even greater success in the long process ahead us.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.