Japan in Their Own Words (JITOW)/日本からの意見

Will WTO Membership Lead to China's Self-Reform?
Taida Hideya / Chairman, the Marubeni Corporation Economic Research Institute

December 10, 2001
China is expected to be granted membership to the World Trade Organization within the year. That would signify the culmination of negotiations spanning the past 15 years. Considering that China's "First Opening" was in 1978 when Deng Xiao Ping declared the Reform and Opening Policy and brought down the Closed Door Policy and its "Second Opening" was in 1992 when the country announced the building of a socialist market economy at the Communist Party Conference, WTO membership would definitely mark its "Third Opening." From now on, China is to make a serious effort to lower its tariffs, bring down non-tariff trade barriers and relax restrictions against foreign entry into its service sector industries. The primary concern among Japanese businesses will be the extent to which China will be able to raise its brand reputation as "the factory of the world" as a result of this process, which entails progress of internationalization within China and a reform of its domestic economic structure. How closely China adheres to and practices WTO rules would be crucial to its success. Let us therefore focus on the following two points.

The first is practicing intellectual property rights. Counterfeit brand products currently abound in China, and motorcycles have become the most frequently raised example of late. Chinese domestic production of motorcycles have reached 11 million, of which a little more than 1 million models are produced under license with Japanese companies. Meanwhile, of the remaining 10 million, an astounding 70 % is estimated to be imitations produced in violation of design and brand name rights. And the concern is that not only do they pose a threat to Japanese companies, but are exported to Vietnam, Indonesia and Mexico, exerting a negative influence on those countries' markets as well. Chinese production technology has become quite advanced, and market domination by these "high-quality imitations" is hardly acceptable. Although China has its own regulations on safeguarding intellectual property rights, putting them into practice has been a problem, due to the lack of thorough enforcement. We are waiting to see what kind of improvements will be forthcoming on this point.

The second is the practice of authority in granting permissions. When a foreign company enters the Chinese market, the government's approval rights can become an obstacle at times. For example, foreign banks are to be allowed to deal with Chinese companies and nationals in RMB within two to five years following China's admission to the WTO. However, this requires a separate application for starting a new business. Even after joining the WTO, its criteria for approval will remain unclear, and if decisions were to be made deliberately on political considerations, the effectiveness of China's Open Door policy would be limited in scope. Now on the verge of admission to the WTO, the country is making steady progress in abolishing, revising and enacting laws in order to establish a regulatory framework that complies with WTO rules. While the importance of building a regulatory system should not be underestimated, one must not forget the importance of objective legal interpretation as well as strict execution and practice if laws are to function smoothly. Whether China will be able to incorporate the spirit of WTO and become an "International State" in the true sense rests precisely on whether it can put the rules to practice.

The writer is Chairman of the Marubeni Corporation Economic Research Institute.
The English-Speaking Union of Japan

WTO加盟によって中国の自己変革は可能か -ルールの運用面に注目-
紿田 英哉 / 丸紅経済研究所 会長

2001年 12月 10日


第2は、許認可権の運用である。外国資本が事業進出する場合、中国政府が握る許認可権が時として参入障壁になりやすい。例えば、外国銀行は加盟2~5年以内に、中国企業や中国人に対し人民元業務が容認されることになっている。しかし、そのためには、新規業務実施のための許認可申請が別途必要となる。WTO加盟後も、許認可の基準が依然として不透明であり、その決定が政治的な観点から恣意的になされるとすれば、対外開放の実効性は小さくならざるを得ない。 WTO加盟を目前にして、中国はWTOルールに適合した法律を整備するために、法律の廃止・修正・制定を着々と進めている。無論、法体系の構築が重要なことはいうまでもないが、法律がうまく機能するためには、客観的な法解釈、さらには、厳格な法の執行・運用が重要であることを忘れてはならない。中国がWTOの精神を生かし、本当の意味での「International State」になるかどうかは、まさに、ルールの運用にかかっているのである。

一般社団法人 日本英語交流連盟

English Speaking Union of Japan > Japan in Their Own Words (JITOW) > Will WTO Membership Lead to China's Self-Reform?