China as WTO member is a win for all

Updated: 2011-12-08 17:36

By Jiang Heng (

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During the last 10 years, China abolished and formulated nearly 3,000 laws and regulations. As of 2010, China has fully performed all its commitment with a new economic and trade system fitting the WTO rules, which fundamentally improved the certainty and transparency of the Chinese market.

It was the first step on the road to compliance for China to join the WTO, among which the biggest issue China faced was institutional reform. Ten years since becoming a WTO member in 2001, China has transformed from a "fair and reasonable" society into a "legal and compliance" community.

After joining the WTO, the Chinese government has reduced intervention in economic affairs that characterized its past, and the administrative function has turned more to public service and more legalized, with the passing of laws like the Government Procurement Law, the Civil Servant Law and Government Information Publicity Law.

Such compliance process with international rules in China can not only establish an economy and trade system concerning foreign affairs that agrees with WTO rules, but more important, it promotes the reform of domestic economic system and has a profound impact on public awareness and economic system.

The growth of the Chinese economy has provided a major opportunity for multinational corporations (MNC) in China. The huge capacity of the Chinese market and impeccable infrastructure, and stable and fair market environment have attracted more and more MNCs to invest in China. So far, over 480 companies of the Fortune Global 500 have their investment in China. Foreign investment grew 9.5 percent annually during the past 10 years.

Those multinational corporations shared China's high economic growth, which is inseparable from the traditional Chinese value of "sharing weal or woe", and which is also connected with the government's effort to improve the investment environment even during the financial crisis.

When the crisis broke out, instead of resorting to trade protectionism, the Chinese government actually loosened market restrictions, and the measures were equally applied to foreign companies. In some policy areas, like "home appliances going to the countryside" or "automobile subsidy", foreign or joint venture brands were never left out. In addition, a series of measures like stimulus package, expanding domestic demand, maintaining financial stability, promoting industrial development and technological innovations, all provided new opportunities for foreign capital.

At a time when global business performance declined dramatically, those companies maintained a stable or high profit level in China, which has helped strengthen their confidence investing in China.

In the past decade, China has been developing along with those foreign - primarily Western - companies, the result being a blend of Chinese characteristics and Western ideas, which are ever harder to distinguish. The very fact makes concepts such as independent intellectual property rights, self-owned brand, indigenous innovation and "Chinese goods" hard to define. However, in recent years, China has been subtly shifting its focus on independent intellectual property rights, indigenous innovation, and self-owned brands. In fact, once embarking on this path, China can no longer backpedal on the way toward internationalization and marketization.

In the coming ten years, while multinational corportations in China will undoubtedly face new challenges, they can always count on China's ever-improving business environment to not only tackle them but actually turn them into opportunities in the country's rapid urbanization and informationization.  

The author is the deputy director of Beijing New Century Academy on Transnational Corporations. The views expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of the China Daily website.