As President Donald Trump announced tariffs and sanctions aimed at rebalancing U.S.–China trade, a Chinese regime media mouthpiece published an opinion piece saying China should “remove the United States” from the World Trade Organization (WTO) in retaliation. The provocative article displays not only the hostility toward the United States found among some inside the regime’s bureaucracy, but also their lack of understanding of the nature of the WTO, observers say.
“[China] should take bolder measures, such as considering a legal move to possibly remove the U.S. from the world body [of the WTO] for instigating trade disputes time and again by violating WTO rules,” wrote Mei Xinyu, a researcher at the Ministry of Commerce of the People’s Republic of China.
The March 23 piece was published as an “opinion” by China Daily, an English-language newspaper that is a mouthpiece for the Chinese Communist Party and is controlled by the State Council Information Office, a propaganda arm of the Chinese regime.
Mei also said that China should not be confined to the dispute-settlement mechanism of the WTO in its retaliation for the U.S. trade sanctions on China, and that an attempt to expel the United States from the WTO could force the country to “exercise self-restraint.”
The WTO currently does not have a mechanism for removing or expelling a member state. The intergovernmental organization is responsible for the regulation of trade in goods, services, and intellectual property among its 164 members. The United States played a critical role in the creation of the WTO in 1995, as well as its predecessor, the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, in 1948.
Observers say that the article published by the Chinese regime’s flagship English propaganda newspaper reflects the underlying thinking of at least some Chinese decision-makers, or at least the threat they seek to convey to the outside world.
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“China Daily would never carry anything that undercuts the opinion of the Chinese government,” said China and East Asia analyst Gordon Chang. “[Mei’s] article reflects the thinking of the Chinese bureaucracy and exposes its growing hostility toward the United States.”
Xia Yeliang, a former professor of economics at Peking University, said Mei is well-known in China as a “far-left agitator” who makes comments on state media from time to time when the Chinese regime finds the political need to showcase his anti-American views.
“If anything, it was China that repeatedly violated WTO rules,” said Xia, who now resides in the United States and frequently criticizes the Chinese regime. “China has never fulfilled its WTO obligations in the last 17 years. If WTO is serious about enforcing rules, it should consider sanctioning China instead.”
Trump has previously blamed the WTO for enabling China’s rise at the expense of the United States. Among other things, the Trump administration has blamed China for failing to follow through on promises of moving toward a market-oriented economy and playing by international trading rules.
According to Trump administration officials, such as the recently empowered White House trade adviser Peter Navarro, China’s economic model combined with the U.S. decision to allow it into the WTO in 2001 led to the rapidly growing trade deficit between China and the United States in the last two decades, and as a result enabled the Chinese regime’s authoritarianism and military aggression around the world.