BEIJING — Joining the World Trade Organization (WTO) in 2001 has become a watershed event in China’s development, not just in terms of the phenomenal changes happening within China, but also its interaction with the rest of the world, in particular the global spillovers of its economic expansion.
Contributing nearly 30 percent on average to world economic growth over the past 20 years, China now boasts the largest middle-income population in the world and is a major trade partner for over 120 countries and regions, and the largest trade partner of the European Union and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.
With openness as the hallmark of its development, China has seen its economy increasingly intertwined with its partners. Its trade with the United States is a good example. Despite trade frictions over the past few years and constant calls from some US officials for “decoupling with China,” the two nations’ economic ties have taken on more features defined as “mutually dependent.”
In the first eight months of this year, Chinese exports to the United States, rather than falling, expanded 22.7 percent year-on-year, official data shows.
Meanwhile, Forbes magazine revealed that imports from China accounted for 19 percent of all US goods imports in 2020, the highest of any trading partners of the United States, while four out of 10 of the fastest-growing imports into the country came from China.
The benefits of growing Sino-US trade to American households are also tangible. The Ministry of Commerce said that each US family could save $850 per year from the trade. From lamps to birthday candles, from flip-flops to mouse traps, “Made in China” goods have long become an indispensable part of the everyday life of many US households.
The many different trade and aid policies being pursued by China globally have been heavily criticised but can developing countries become more independent or will China’s policy reform?