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The WTO Deal and China's Future

This is not a "win/win" game. This is not a negotiation.

The U.S. delegation, headed by the cannot-make-decision Trade Representative while her boss, the U.S. President Clinton, was faraway from his White House office, came to Beijing only for the final signature. There was no place to negotiate for their conditions, and they had prepared to leave for the U.S. on the third day. This reminds us the U.S. diplomacy during the Rambouilet "negotiation" this year before bombing Yugoslavia. There was no negotiation, as the former U.S. Ambassador to the UN told the then-UN Secretary-general: "Rome needs no diplomacy."

Their Chinese counterpart was not the delegation headed by Shi Guangsheng, the Foreign Economy & Trade Department Minister seating face-to-face with the USTR, but the whole regime directly headed by the PRC "President" (*1) Jiang Zeming and Prime Minister Zhu Rongji. Jiang showed up on the last day.

The Chinese side resisted, as widely expected. The USTR simply requested to meet Zhu Rongji because she knew that Shi Guangsheng is not her counterpart; otherwise, she would leave for the U.S. next morning. Zhu appeared, twice, during the "negotiation" process. This time, the Chinese sideís resistance lasted for as long as three days, not "another thirteen years" as Zhu once claimed, and finally accepted the U.S. conditions. This surprised most Chinese people including many other ministers within Zhuís administrative government. The regime in Beijing simply cannot afford waiting for another thirteen years to sustain its legitimacy to stay at power.

The USTR's message is clear enough: "..... the strategic significance of this agreement. The key for China is whether it will be a constructive force in the global community as well as in the Asia region or whether it will be a destructive force. Anything that moves China toward western norms, toward internationally accepted norms of behavior, starting here on the commercial side, but ultimately hopefully spill over effects in other areas of Chinese activity is an absolutely positive, correct, sensible thing to be doing." (*2)

No one who speaks English misunderstands her message. Their general response is: "The agreement on China's entry into the WTO will rank with President Nixon's 1972 visit to Beijing and President Carter's extension of diplomatic recognition to China as a major step in bringing China into the world. It will help stabilize China's relations with the major powers, most particularly the United States, and burnish Jiang Zemin's (and perhaps Zhu Rongji's) leadership credentials. Most importantly, it will reinforce domestic reform and lead China to play an increasingly constructive role in world affairs."(*3) For them, the concern of Chinaís futureís uncertainty has been clarified, no matter that destination be a Russia, an India, or a Mexico, an Indonesia. What the U.S. is concerned is: "But given China's poor record in honoring agreements, it will take a strong administration to hold them to their word." (*4)

Toward Chinese people, the Chinese Chief Negotiator Long Yongtu, who is also the Vice Minister of Foreign Economy & Trade Department, claims this accession to WTO (he uses the word "entering") to be as great as Chinaís entering the UN. Twenty eight years ago, PRC did enter the UN headquarters and began to influence the world affairs as one permanent member in the Security Council. Had Long read The Economist November 20-26,1999 issue of the death-knell of Socialism, he could claim this deal is greater than PRCís foundation fifty years ago. Long could claim so not because he did not know this is a sky lie, but because he did know that in China, all public dissent against the party and government, including recently one kind of spiritual health practice movement, has been effectively silenced.

Whom does Long represent? Which political force do Zhu and his "reformist" administration represent? Which social class do Jiang and the CCP ruling circle represent?

Labeled sometimes as "butchers" (which they deserve), sometimes as "strategic partners" (which apply to them) by the same counterpart in Washington, the Beijing regime simply does not have an equal shape, nor the right to represent the Chinese people to negotiate such important issues as this WTO deal. The U.S. should not utilize Chinese peopleís difficult period to achieve such a deal exploiting the Chinese people. And I doubt this deal will benefit ordinary American people. This is the same deal as the 1952 Japan-ROC Treaty between the Yoshida regime in Tokyo and the Jiang Jieshi regime in Taipei, enforced by Washington. In that deal a regime controlling only Chinaís less-than-2% population "represented" and sold out the whole China.

For the U.S. side, in one word, "all things considered," there is no possibility to repeat the U.S.-Japan trade friction. It is also very important to analyze the details of the deal, as some Chinese scholars have begun to conduct, because almost every item literally is relevant to millions populationís life. However, first of all, it is necessary to points out the most significant impact on Chinaís development in the coming years.

This deal is a clear indication of the formation of China's Bureaucratic Capitalist class, represented by the "reformist" Zhu. Since it is highly possible that new regimes in Taipei will "learn lessons" from the "trouble-maker" (*5) Lee Teng-hui and will act more rationally, this situation will give the Bureaucratic Capitalist class in China a longer period to develop. This is the reason why Jiang declared to "resolve the Taiwan Problem" in the next half century, not in the next years after this yearís Macao return, during his visit to British last month. Time is on Jiang and Zhuís side, and Washington knows that its China "strategic partners" need time to realize its strategy, ultimately leading China to become a "democracy," defined by Washington.

In China, Zhu becomes the best candidate to realize this U.S. strategy. As an able mayor, dean, as well as journalist (see his super-performance during his last April visit to Washington), he came to power after the Tiananmen Incident in 1989, as the popular Napoleon III stepped to the French political stage more than one hundred years ago. The CCP ruling class only allowed Chinese people to select between Zhu and Li Peng, "the butcher" whose appointment as the PRC Premier was also one key factor to the Incident. Anyone, except Li Peng, installed by the CCP ruling class would become popular.

There are many important issues waiting for the ruling class in Beijing to deal, but the WTO is not one of the priorities. This deal will undoubtedly intensify the struggle within the ruling class, which nonetheless has maintained superficial uniform after the Tiananmen Incident under the foreign positive and negative pressures. After the WTO deal, a large amount of members, currently still within the ruling class, will not be able to enter this Bureaucratic Capitalist class and most of them will be simply dismissed (*6). For those who can remain within the ruling class, headed by Li Peng who now controls the PRC Peopleís Representative Conference, a live-or-die struggle is ahead to defend their privilege. When will the CCP be divided into two (if not more) distinct political forces is only a question of time.

"In a world teeming with change, two things are certain: first, the new world order will be neither orderly nor peaceful; second, much of humanity does not share and has little hope of sharing in progress toward a better life."(*7) This is the future guaranteed from this WTO deal for the Chinese people. The newly formed Bureaucratic Capitalism (with its other name of "Socialism with Chinese characters"), along with the other two "big mountains:" the Economic Imperialism and the Chinese-style Feudalism (*8), will transform the Chinese peasants, workers, teachers and any other people which cannot enter the ruling circle, into one common class: the politically as well as economically oppressed class.

If the Chinese people cannot be organized into a democratic political force powerful enough to peacefully prevent China from further deterioration in the near future, rather than a local Chiapas-style rebellion which does not become a direct threat to imperialist forces, the alternative will be a new national wide Cuba (or Jinggangsan-Yanan) style Revolution.


*1. I donít know why the media, especially the Chinese media, does not use his correct Chinese title of State Chairman. No one called Mao Zedong, Liu Shaoqi, Song Qingling (Madam Sun Yat-sen) or Li Xiannian "President" when they held this position.

*2. The USTR Charlene Barshefsky to Jim Lehrer, PBS, Nov 18, 1999.

*3. Since almost every China expert repeats the same tone, it makes no difference to quote any of them. This is from Joseph Fewsmith, "China and the WTO: the Politics Behind the Agreement," NBR, November 1999.

*4. Governor George W. Bush, "A Distinctly American Internationalism," Ronald Reagan Presidential Library, Simi Valley, California, November 19, 1999.

*5. This word is best for Harry (Hongda) Wu. The PRC Foreign Minister Tang Jiaxuan picked up this word to describe Lee for the purpose of a dialog with his U.S. counterpart. This is only one example indicating the PRC foreign policy change friendly toward the West.

*6. For example, even one of the "stars," Lin Yanzhi, who was named the Party Secretary of Beijing University soon after the Tiananmen Incident in 1989, now stays as a standing member of Henan Province Party Committee. Unable to enter the Party Central Committee (the core ruling circle) after ten years with an age near fifty five, he now begins to request a "democracy" within the CCP.

*7. Robert M. Gates, director of the CIA, at a U.S. House of Representatives Committee (Foreign Affairs), 1992.

*8. This is a usage borrowed from Maoís definition of Modern Chinese history before 1949, but todayís Chinese Feudalism combines Stalinist characters. I cannot find a better description. Social situations in China change so rapidly, we cannot define a more accurate terminology for them.

Jing Zhao, Representative

US-Japan-China Comparative Policy Research Institute, San Jose, USA