issue of China's compliance with WTO rules and the transparency
of China's new trade laws the drafting of which are the "top priority
of this year," according to China's WTO watchdog, Wang Zhongfu,
minister of the State General Administration for Industry and Commerce
is going to be a headache for any and all who want to do business
only are MOFTEC's edicts indecipherable and/or vague, but also the
central government has no control over how local authorities implement
(or do not implement) any new legislation. So what Beijing says
is OK, Sichuan will veto but not openly and in a court of law
or on the floor of the Provincial Congress (which doesn't exist,
as far as the drooling suit is concerned). A veto in China is more
informal and more potent: no one talks to you, no matter what documents
you prepare, roadblocks in the form of applications for this and
licenses for that pop up, expenses mount until finally someone else
gets the contract.
as in the case in Mongolia, they throw you in jail. Or as in the
case in Nanjing, workers take over your hotel room and demand payment
basically the legal system still operates based on whim, caprice
and power and not actual rule of law. But for those who remain convinced
that the regulations will eventually mean something after China
produces its own legions of lawyers determined to revamp the system,
look to www.isinolaw.com, where you can buy a reference
guide through China's Law Forest for a few thousand bucks. Sites
such as these, offering legal clairvoyance, are becoming more and
more common as foreign businessmen become more and more confused.
new regulations demand that all imported soybeans be tested for
any genetically modified ingredients, and if GMOs are found, the
product must be labeled accordingly. Also, the importer must receive
a certificate from China's Ministry of Agriculture as well as a
certificate stating that the soybeans are also marketed in the country
from which they originate.
must be done by March 2002
the US soybean crop is almost completely genetically altered. To
make matters worse, different beans with different levels (and types)
of genetic "improvement" find
themselves in the same batch. Needless to say, US soybean growers
are none too pleased, the 50% stake they had in the market will
evaporate under the new regulations.
course, this has more to do with Chinese domestic soybean production
than it does with the CCP's concern for its citizen's health. With
agricultural subsidies down almost 20% and soybean imports from
the US, Argentina and Brazil pouring in, China felt the squeeze
and acted to protect the historically Chinese product from foreign
is interesting to note that the Chinese government has placed high
hopes in its own GMO agriculture, working hand in hand with Monsanto,
while developing its own GMO rice and cotton. Rather than "Go Green"
and take a stab at the organic produce market, which would somewhat
justify the regulations announced January 7 concerning soybeans
(and perhaps gather a whole chunk of supporters it never had: Indian
farmers, Seattle coffee-shop kids, Minneapolis West Bankers
has decided to do as the Big Boys do and use bogus regulations to
stall the demise of domestic industry.
regulations in themselves are unique and rather groundbreaking,
EU for strictness and far outshining anything US opponents of
GMO crops have ever dreamed of. Unfortunately, the MOFTEC people
don't really mean it its all a means toward a different end.
sign that China's WTO membership is shaping up to be an interesting
one is the conflict arising between the "Quad" as the real leaders
of the WTO (US, EU, Japan and Canada) are dubbed and the Chinese
delegation over who gets to chair the Trade Negotiations Committee.
The TNC lords over the talks that began with the WTO Ministerial
in Doha. All items that the participants in Doha agreed were important
and worthy of discussion will now be deliberated over the next three
years with the TNC acting as the guide and organizer.
wants the guidelines of the talks to be discussed before a chair
is selected, while the Quad wants a chair to be selected so that
guidelines can be discussed
the WTO is about as democratic as the next institution (as
in, it isn't democratic at all). All decisions are made through
consensus and informal talks. Which translates into: the Big Boys
get together and decide what will happen, and they dangle carrots
in front of enough Little Guys to build a consensus.
developing countries don't have the resources to produce a large,
competent and informed delegation, so those who can make the rules.
China's delegation is in the dozens and climbing and those people
are quite competent, their leader being Sun Zhenyu, Deputy Minister
of Foreign Trade and Economic Cooperation. Sun dealt with US and
Oceania matters in his capacity as Deputy Minister.
plans to use this strength to challenge to status quo in the WTO.
By insisting on a clear set of guidelines before a chair is selected,
China in effect bypasses the chair and forces whomever it may be
(usually the director-general, in this case Mike Moore) to act as
a sideline player instead of dictating from on high. China is supported
by a several developing countries that have considered Moore to
be a pawn of the Quad in the past.
soybeans and the TNC chairmanship put China and US on the same street
headed different ways
we'll see how long killing terrorists keeps
them from each other's throats.
printable version of this article
is a teacher living and working in China. His articles have appeared
in the South China Morning Post, the Minnesota Daily,
and elsewhere. His exclusive Antiwar.com column (usually) appears
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