China hits back at US over WTO criticism

China hits back at US over WTO criticism

22/01/18

Luke Foddy, Communications Manager

The Chinese Foreign Ministry has said the US poses an ‘unprecedented challenge to the multilateral trade system’ in remarks that will do little to ease tensions between the world’s two largest economies.

Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying made the comments in response to US criticism of the World Trade Organization’s (WTO) decision to admit China in 2001, according to Reuters.

Last week, the US suggested it was a mistake for the WTO to admit China, The Financial Times reported, citing comments from Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer.

“The global trading system is threatened by major economies who do not intend to open their markets to trade and participate fairly,” Mr Lighthizer said, adding that China’s behaviour was “contrary to the fundamental principles of the WTO”.

But today, Ms Hua told journalists: “I think everyone has seen that it’s precisely the United States’ unilateralist methods, and the sounds it’s made on unilateralism, that are an unprecedented challenge to the multilateral trade system.”

In December, the WTO came under pressure after it failed to achieve consensus on relatively simple trade arrangements, amid vocal calls from the US for WTO members to abandon its traditional multilateral approach and do more to tackle perceived unfair practices.

The latest exchange comes after official figures showed that the US-China trade imbalance grew in 2017. In a phone call to China’s President Xi Jinping, US President Trump claimed the situation was ‘not sustainable’.