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China's WTO Entry Sparks Rapid Economic Expansion: Report
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China's entry into the World Trade Organization five years ago has sparked an economic expansion that is the envy of the world, said a report carried by Monday's The Wall Street Journal.


"China's WTO entry did what officials inside and outside the country were hoping it would -- increase trade and make markets more competitive," the report said.


Over the past five years, the size of China's economy has nearly doubled, with annual output surpassing US$2 trillion in 2005. "The world's most populous nation is now its fourth-largest economy and third-largest exporter," said the leading US business daily.


And while complaints about China's trading practices are rife, it is also clear that China's economy is in many ways more open than Japan's was during its rise in the 1980s and India's is today, said the report.


Japan was once notorious for the difficulty foreign companies faced in penetrating its maze of tariffs and regulations. Even though it is much more open now, imports still account for only about 11 percent of the country's gross domestic product. The equivalent figure for China was 29 percent last year, according to the report.


Compared with India, China's greater openness is visible at street level. Wal-Mart Stores Inc. outlets are fixtures in every major Chinese city. The US discount retailer now has 66 stores in China and is building more -- but it has yet to open a single outlet in India, where government rules ban most direct foreign investments in the retail sector.


But the report also noted that the change in some ways has also been painful for China.


"As it has phased out state control of its economy, China has dismantled much of its health-care and social-welfare system and laid off millions of workers from state-run companies," said the report. 


(Xinhua News Agency December 12, 2006)


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