China became a member of the World Trade Organization (WTO) on 11 December 2001 after approval of the Ministerial Conference.  China`s accession to the WTO was preceded by a lengthy negotiation process that required significant changes in the Chinese economy. Until the 1970s, the Chinese economy was led by the communist government and isolated from other economies. With political reforms, China began to open its economy in the early 1980s and signed a series of regional trade agreements. China was granted observer status at GATT and began joining the organization in 1986. China wanted to be admitted as a founding member of the WTO (which it would confirm as a global economic power), but this attempt was thwarted because the United States, European countries and Japan had asked China to first reform various customs policies, including tariff reductions, open markets and industrial policies. Note: Document limitation is an important element of the transparency obligations of the multilateral trading system. Paragraphs 1 and 2, point e), of the decision of the Council of Ministers WT/L/452 of 14 May 2002 provide that “documents relating to the parties to accession are limited and automatically declassified by the Ministerial Conference/General Council as soon as the working group report is adopted.” The completion date of the extraction procedure depends on the quantity and complexity of the documents involved. Prior to 2002, the limitation of accession documents was governed by other rules (i.e. the decision of the General Council WT/L/160/Rev.1 of 26 July 1996) which concern only documents distributed before 2002.
The synthesis of China`s commitments to further open its economy to become a member of the World Trade Organization is broad in scope. These include significant reductions in tariffs, which will bring the average level below 10% by 2005; the introduction of a tariff quota system that reduces the tariff on major agricultural raw materials, such as wheat, for a large volume of imports to near zero; phasing out all quotas and licences that have limited the influx of certain imports; a substantial reduction in the use of government trade as an instrument to control the volume of imports of agricultural raw materials and other essential raw materials; and the opening of critical foreign direct investment services sectors such as telecommunications, distribution, banking, insurance, asset management and securities. In addition, China`s accession protocol is committed to complying with international intellectual property protection standards and to accepting the use by its trading partners of unusual mechanisms that could be used to reduce the influx of Chinese products into foreign markets. Finally, I would like to say that China`s accession to the World Trade Organization is a pioneering event that has a significant impact on China, the United States, the WTO and the world as a whole.