China's WTO entry a 'great story' in world history

Updated: 2011-12-01 14:37


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WASHINGTON - China's entry into the World Trade Organization (WTO) is one of the great stories in the world history, said former WTO Director-General Michael Moore.

China's development in the last ten years is "one of the great stories in human history," Moore, who served as the WTO chief from 1999 to 2002 and had a first-hand experience on China's accession to the global trading organization in December 2001, told Xinhua in a recent exclusive interview in Washington DC.

"Never in the history of our species, have so many people been lifted out of the extreme poverty. That's hundreds of millions of people. A new middle-class is developing. This is a wonderful thing," said Moore, who is now the New Zealand ambassador to the United States.

When asked to comment on his remarks ten years ago that a WTO without China is not a "world" trade organization, Moore believed that his words held up. "Without China, it is not a world trade organization, it's half the world," he said.

Moore added that if China had not been admitted to the WTO, the world would be very "dangerous" now.

"How unstable and how unpredictable it would be, if China is not consuming and buying," he said, citing the example of his own country, New Zealand, which has avoided an economic recession partially thanks to a growing Chinese market.

"So when people are worried about China's economic strength, I am not worried," he said. "I always worry if China gets weak."

Moore described China's accession to the WTO as not only "the most important thing" during his time at the global organization, but also probably "the most important thing" during his "political life."

"Now I think I can hold to the view that it is certainly the most substantial economic decision that Beijing has made in 50 years," he said.

He noted that China's admission to the WTO was not only "joining a club or joining a union", but also meant "a substantial and permanent change."

It meant that China was prepared to accept going to a "rules-based system" and to accept that when there are differences the law of disputes mechanism is "supreme," said Moore. "This is a huge thing to China," he added.

Moore also believed that the decision by the Chinese leadership to boost domestic spending and pursue a more balanced economy is very "wise," because, according to him, "any economy that is too reliant on exports is vulnerable."

Regarding the global economic outlook, he expressed his cautious optimism, noting that the global trading system is hanging together and governments around the world are taking the right measures, as opposed to the severe trade and currency conflicts during the Great Depression.

But he warned that the greatest threat the world economy is facing is de-globalization which, he believed, means stopping of trade and a prolonged recession. He said that if that goes long enough, nationalist and protectionist forces will start to "bubble up in all societies."

Moore said "the next big story about China" will be how it can boost domestic spending, share the wealth and maintain its growth, which is important not only for China but also for the rest of the world.

"Can you do it? I think you can," he said.