MOFCOM report a devastating indictment of U.S. 'double standards'
Updated 14:54, 12-Aug-2023
The Ministry of Commerce of the People's Republic of China, Beijing, August 4, 2023. /CFP
The Ministry of Commerce of the People's Republic of China, Beijing, August 4, 2023. /CFP

The Ministry of Commerce of the People's Republic of China, Beijing, August 4, 2023. /CFP

Editor's note: William Jones, a special commentator on current affairs for CGTN, is a former White House correspondent for Executive Intelligence Review. The article reflects the author's opinions, and not necessarily those of CGTN.

The 2023 Report on WTO Compliance of the U.S. by the Chinese Ministry of Commerce is a damning indictment of the policy of the U.S. in its double standards in the all-important area of trade and tariffs. The report details the way in which the U.S. has skirted regulations of the WTO, sometimes ignoring them entirely, and sometimes expanding structures of the WTO to include areas for which they were not designed. This is particularly the case in the broad use of the "national security exception" to restrict the export of high-tech products and to restrict investment by Chinese entrepreneurs in U.S. industry.

The report targets the extensive use by the U.S. of unilateral sanctions, applying U.S. domestic law to international transactions, ignoring decisions by the Dispute Settlement Body, engaging in economic coercion, and adopting a double standard on the use of industrial policy. It also underscores the U.S. attempt to re-structure the important global supply chains to the detriment of countries that the U.S. considers "rivals."

The U.S., in particular, played a large role in "setting the rules" for the WTO. When China applied for membership in the organization, there were very difficult changes which they were required to make in the way the Chinese economy functioned. Some of these were necessary and in the interest of China's development. Others were not, and often required great sacrifice. But China succeeded in making those changes and succeeded in joining the WTO in 2001.

Generally, it was thought that joining the WTO would also give China the opportunity to work for changes in the operations of the WTO that were detrimental to developing countries like China. They found that this was not so easy. Even in cases in which they were simply calling for other countries, including the U.S., to play by those rules which the U.S. had itself formulated, China found that the U.S. would find ways of skirting them – or ignoring them completely.

The most recent attempts by the Biden Administration to prevent the export of high technology products to China by utilizing a broad definition of "national security concerns" has been the latest attempt by Washington to undermine China's ability to use the WTO in order to force the U.S. to adhere to fair and equal treatment in trade. U.S. policy at the moment is obsessively focused on the need for it to remain the "rules-giver," "rules" which the U.S. itself does not abide by.

Headquarter of the World Trade Organization, Geneva, Switzerland. /CFP
Headquarter of the World Trade Organization, Geneva, Switzerland. /CFP

Headquarter of the World Trade Organization, Geneva, Switzerland. /CFP

While this behavior of a "hegemon" has been most egregiously manifested in the anti-China campaign, China is far from alone in being the only victim. During the 1970s and 1980s, when countries like Brazil and Argentina were intent on developing nuclear energy, the U.S. intervened heavily to try and stop them, not using trade rules, but implying so-called "non-proliferation concerns."

Since the death of John F. Kennedy, the U.S. has made little effort to promote the development of countries of the Global South. In fact, National Security Study Memorandum 200, which was completed in 1974, gave a clear warning that development in the countries of the "Third World" could create some instability in the global order, i.e. negatively affect the hegemony of the West. It noted that population growth in these countries could also threaten the supply of natural resources, which it considered "limited," and primarily meant to be accessible to Western nations.

This has been the primary outlook of the Anglo-American elites, the real "leaders" of "the West" since that time. The hysterical reaction of the Biden administration to "China's rise" is simply a somewhat belated recognition that the Global South is in fact on the march.

In that sense, the indictment of the U.S. in the report will have important reverberations among the other countries of the Global South, recognizing similar operations that have been conducted by the U.S. against them. Some of the major representatives of the Global South will soon be meeting at the BRICS summit in South Africa and will undoubtedly debate the issue of how the present structures of global governance work – or fail to work.

Holding the U.S. "feet to the fire" in its trampling on the regulations of the WTO in this way is an important move in demanding equal and fair treatment. More importantly, however, is the need to create those types of organizations that can better meet the needs of all our people.

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