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  • Cited by 4
  • Print publication year: 2003
  • Online publication date: July 2009

4 - China's WTO accession – the final countdown

Summary

Introduction

With the gavelling of the accession package at the conclusion of the Working Party meeting on 17 September 2001, the negotiation on China's accession to the WTO was finally brought to a close. Thereafter, the WTO Ministerial Conference approved the terms of China's accession in Doha (Qatar) on 10 November 2001 and the Chinese government notified its acceptance on 11 November. In line with customary practice, and as set out in China's Protocol of Accession, China became a member of the WTO thirty days later, on 11 December 2001.

Each accession to the WTO is a unique event, but few would argue with the proposition that China's accession is in a class of its own. After all, China was one of the twenty-three original Contracting Parties to the GATT in 1948 and her application for readmission to the multilateral trading system dates back fifteen years to July 1986, easily making it the longest and most arduous accession negotiation in the history of the GATT/WTO.

After China's revolution in 1949 and the split between Mao Zedong and Chiang Kai-Shek, the government in Taiwan announced in 1950 that China would leave the GATT. Although the government in Beijing never recognized this withdrawal decision, nearly forty years later, in 1986, the People's Republic of China notified the GATT of its wish to resume its status as a GATT Contracting Party and its willingness to renegotiate the terms of its membership.