WTO entry benefits China, other countries
Updated: 2011-11-28 10:56
BEIJING - It's Saturday night at a popular theater in downtown Beijing, and Chinese youngsters are lining up to grab tickets for the US movie "Rise of the Planet of Apes."
Liu Xing, a 26-year-old sales manager at a home appliance store in Beijing, said he has come to see the movie because of his growing interest in US-made films and TV drama in recent years. He said the special techniques, good storytelling and dynamic pictures of US action movies are highly attractive to him.
As China's opening-up and reform policies have expanded, so has access to foreign cultural products, including movies and sitcoms. The Chinese public's interest in these products has grown along with their ability to obtain them, especially in the era of the Internet.
Last year, the US hit film "Avatar" grossed nearly 1.3 billion yuan (about $205 million) in China, a historical high for a foreign movie. Total box office revenues that year stood at 10.1 billion yuan. When China first entered the WTO in 2001, box office revenues were no more than 2 billion yuan.
Over the past decade since China joined the WTO, China has become the the world' s largest exporter and second-largest trader. Its foreign trade shot up to $2.97 trillion last year, almost six times the amount recorded in 2001. Boosted by trade, its gross domestic product expanded at an annual rate of more than 10 percent during the period, reaching nearly 40 trillion yuan last year.
The expansion of China's economy has allowed more people to experience the luxuries of foreign brands. Ten years ago in the city of Kunming, the capital of south China's Yunnan province, luxury brands such as Louis Vuitton (LV) did not even exist.
"When I first learned of LV in a fashion magazine several years ago, I was sad that I could not buy the brand in Kunming. I asked a friend in Hong Kong to get some of their products for me," said a bank clerk surnamed Li.
"But now, when I get off work, I sometimes spend some time window-shopping in luxury goods stores," she said.
LV opened its second flagship store in Kunming in June after the establishment of its first store in 2007. At present, brands such as Burberry, Gucci and Cartier all have a presence in the second-tier city.
A report by the World Luxury Council this year predicted that China, currently the world's second-largest market for luxury products, will overtake Japan as the world's largest next year. Nearly two-thirds of the world's luxury brands currently have a presence in China.
Yuan Gangming, a researcher with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said that the greatest benefit China has received through its growing economy is its increasing competitive strength on the world stage, particularly after entering the WTO.
Yuan said that a market economy must foster competition in order to grow. Although China has faced increasing trade friction and punitive foreign policies in recent years, it has also started to learn to adjust and reform its mechanisms in accordance with international rules and resorted to just measures to address these difficulties.
Yu Jianhua, China's assistant minister of commerce, said earlier this month that the past ten years were a prime period for China's "best" and "most rapid" economic growth. The past decade was also a period in which China and other countries complemented one another and enjoyed shared interests.
Over the past decade, Chinese exports accounted for a large share of the world's consumption of goods. Their relatively competitive prices were welcomed by nations around the world, bringing real benefits to consumers, Yuan said.
"As a newly-emerging and highly vital force, China' s expanding foreign trade has enlarged the world's trade scale and promoted global economic growth," Yuan said, adding that the world's second-largest economy is now playing an increasingly important role in boosting regional prosperity and stabilizing the world' s economic development.
China's imports have also expanded in recent years. Data shows that since China' s WTO entry in 2001, the value of its imports has grown five times over. Official statistics show that the nation' s imports averaged $750 billion annually over the past ten years, which helped create an estimated 14 million jobs for its trading partners.
Chinese officials have reiterated that the nation does not intentionally seek a trade surplus.
WTO Director-General Pascal Lamy said during a trip to China in October that many economists believe that China's trade surplus with the US is a result of high consumption in the United States, while in China, consumption is relatively weaker and the savings rate is high.
China's trade surplus is beginning to narrow as a result of rapidly growing imports. In the first ten months of 2011, the country' s trade surplus stood at $124 billion, down 15.4 percent year-on-year.
It is estimated that the nation's imports will amount to $8 trillion during the next five years.