The investigation into China`s activities in the dispute settlement system, which plays a central role in the functioning of the WTO, provides an overview of China`s complex relationship with the WTO.6 Between 2002 and 2019, China was involved in 65 disputes – 21 as a complainant and 44 times as a respondent. China is thus the third most active member of the DSS during this period, behind the United States and the EU, which have been involved in 278 and 190 disputes. Canada (63 litigations) and India (57 litigations) rounded out the top five. Several advanced economies have opposed China`s self-designation as a developing country. In February 2019, the United States proposed reforms to the WTO that would create stricter conditions for the designation to be eligible. China responded by partnering with India and seven other development members to refute the U.S. proposal and support WTO practice of allowing members to self-identify with their status. The lesson to be learned is that the WTO complaint against China is working. It does not always work properly, but it is no different from the situation in other countries. As Mark Wu acknowledged despite his reservations about the effectiveness of WTO dispute settlement with China, the WTO has so far “effectively served its purpose as a forum to enforce China`s trade commitments.
On numerous occasions when the WTO has ruled against China, the Chinese government has readily complied with the ruling and has generally amended its laws or regulations to comply with WTO rules. 11 But there can be no negotiations if there is no willingness to negotiate first. And despite all the talk about trade deals, President Trump has shown little interest in opening genuine international trade negotiations. Instead, he seems to be interested only in the take-it-it-or-Leave-it of his personal version of “the art of chord.” In some smaller countries, this may seem like a job for him and his supporters. But this approach will not last long. It will not work with all countries. And take-it-it-or-leave-it certainly won`t work with China, which has at least as much influence on the fate of the U.S. economy as the U.S.
in relation to the Chinese economy. In reality, the fate of the two economies is the same in many ways, because they are interdependent – a powerful reason for the United States and China to negotiate more and better rules, on which they and all the other WTO members can agree. Unsurprisingly, the five most active members of the DSS – the United States, the EU, China, Canada and India – are five of the world`s largest economies. Together, they accounted for about two-thirds of global GDP in 2018. By comparison, the 30 least developed members of the WTO had a TOTAL OF less than 1% of the global world in 2018 and had so far only been involved in litigation as complainants or respondents – a complaint filed by Bangladesh against India in 2004. In accordance with paragraph 12 of Article 5, point b), cancellation or depreciation “is used in this agreement in the same sense as that used in the relevant provisions of the 1994 GATT and the existence of such a cancellation or infringement is found in accordance with the practice of applying these provisions.” Where a measure is in contradiction with a GATT provision, Section XXIII, paragraph a, applies and is presumed to be null or other.