Long Yongtu’s WTO Accession Commemorative Lecture (1)

Long Yongtu (龙永图), born in Hunan Province in 1943, is a former Vice Minister of the Ministry of Foreign Trade and Economic Cooperation and was China’s Chief Negotiator for his country’s accession to the World Trade Organization (WTO). Long was also an enthusiastic participant in public debate on domestic issues during the first decade of the new century.

The following is part one of my translation of a lecture “recently” given by Long at a seminar in Beijing.

Main link: Since you are all market economies, can you remove “socialism”? – Absolutely not (既然都是市场经济了,能不能去掉社会主义?“绝对不可能”)

As we discuss the 20th anniversary of China’s accession to the WTO this year, we should put it into the context of this years biggest thing this year, the 100th anniversary of the Chinese Communist Party’s establishment. The activities of commemorating the 20th anniversary of WTO accession should be a part of learning the party’s 100 years of history. Only in this fashion will our commemorative activities have clear-cut representative meaning and add to its value and importance.

今年我们谈中国入世20周年,应该把它放在今年最大的一件事情——中国共产党建党100周年——背景之下,把纪念入世20周年的活动,作为我们学习党的100年历史的一个组成部分。只有这样才能使我们的纪念活动具有鲜明的时代意义和时代特色,也赋予它更大的价值和重要性。

This isn’t far-fetched, but rather,the histories of our country’s establishment, of reform and opening up are all part of the party’s history. By putting the commemoration of WTO accession 20 years ago into this big context makes it more significant, and it is very relevant in this context.

这样说不是要牵强附会,而是因为我们的建国史、改革开放史,都是百年党史很重要的部分,我们把纪念入世20周年放在这样一个大的背景下更有意义,也是非常相关的。

I think this history can be divided into two areas. One is the fifteen years of accession negotiations from 1986 to 2001. Why didn’t we enter WTO when we recovered our legitimate United Nations’ seat? That was because at the time, our thinking wasn’t sufficiently intellectually liberated. At the time, it was believed that that was a rich countries’ club, without any advantages for us. In fact, according to GATT regulations, we simply could have written an application and we could have joined, without any need for negotiations, because China had been a founding member. Because of restoring its legitimate UN membership, our re-entry into GATT would have been a matter of course. But at the time, we just felt that GATT was a rich countries’ club, and joining wouldn’t have been of any use. It was all dominated by Western countries, so we decided not to join.

关于这段历史,我觉得可以分为两部分:一部分是1986年到2001年中国复关和入世的15年谈判。为什么当年恢复联合国合法席位后,我们没有进入WTO?因为当时思想不够解放,认为那是一个富国俱乐部,对我们也没什么好处。实际上当时根据《关贸总协定》的规定,我们完全可以写一张申请就进去的,那个时候根本不需要谈判,因为我们中国是创始成员,既然恢复了联合国的合法席位,我们复关也是理所当然的。但是当时就觉得关贸是富国俱乐部,我们进去也没有什么用,都是西方国家主导的,就决定不去了。

Later, it took us until 1986 to apply. Why was that? Because after the beginning of reform and opening in 1978, we saw our country’s foreign trade continuously expand, with the need to be granted quotas, especially because at the time, GATT sill had the “Agreement on Textile and Clothing“, and the “Multi Fibre Arrangement“. Because of the need to apply for quotas for textile exports under the “multi-fibre arrangement” framework, it was decided to apply for re-entry into the GATT. So I think that the history from 1986 to 2001 is also something everyone can study.

后来一直到1986年才提出申请,为什么?因为1978年开始改革开放以后,慢慢觉得我们中国的对外贸易在不断扩大,特别是当时《关贸总协定》还有《纺织品协定》《多种纤维协定》要发放配额。当时为了我们中国的纺织品贸易特别是纺织品出口能够借助多边的《多种纤维协定》框架取得配额,决定开始复关了。所以从1986年开始到2001年,我觉得这一段历史,也是大家可以研究的一段历史。

The second area is the twenty years from entering the WTO in 2001, to 2021. How have we fulfilled our promise to the WTO? How has entering the WTO accelerated China’s reform and opening, how has it enhanced its hard power and soft power? This historical period also needs to be well researched.

第二部分是2001年到2021年中国入世这20年。这20年我们是怎么履行对世贸组织的承诺?是怎么样通过入世这件事加快中国的改革开放,提升了中国的硬实力和软实力?这一段历史也是需要好好研究的。

Therefore, the first point of view under such a special historical background this year, is that by regarding the WTO entry of twenty years ago as part of our studies and research of the party’s 100-years history, we stand on a high ground – not just discussing trade or doing research on an academic level. We look at this matter from a perspective of the entire party and the entire country. As part of China’s reform and opening, thereby moving forward promoting China’s reform and opening, this is significant.

所以我的第一个观点,在今年这样一个特定的历史背景之下,我们把纪念中国入世20周年,看成是我们学习和研究党的100年历史的组成部分,这样站位就高了,我们的讨论就不仅仅是在经贸领域,更不是在学术领域这样一个层面上进行研究,而是从全党、全国的角度来看这件事情。它作为中国改革开放史的一部分,从而进一步推动中国的改革开放,这样就有意义了。

The second [point of view] in my view, when learning the history of China’s WTO membership is to comply with Secretary Xi Jinping’s “Sixteen Characters Policy”. This “Sixteen Characters Policy” is connected with studying the entire party’s history, because we make our studies of 20 years of WTO membership a part of studying the party’s history. Of course, the “Sixteen Characters Policy” also suitably guides our 20-years-WTO activity.

第二,对中国入世20年的历史学习,我觉得要遵循习近平总书记提出来的“16字方针”。这“16字方针”是针对整个党史学习,既然我们把入世20周年作为党史学习的一部分,当然这“16字方针”也适合指导我们入世20周年的纪念活动。

The General Secretary’s “Sixteen Characters Policy’s” first article is to study historical fact.1) Studying history can help to understand some principles. From China’s 15 years of WTO accession negotiations and its 20-year membership, which principles are there, which experiences can we summarize and use as reference?

总书记提出的“16字方针”,第一条是学史明理,学习历史能明白一些道理,中国入世谈判15周年、入世20周年,我们有哪些道理、哪些经验可以总结、可以借鉴?

The second article is to enhance faith by studying history – studying history can strengthen our confidence, our continuous promotion of reform and opening, the deepening of reform, and it can expand confidence in opening up.

第二条是学史增信,学习历史可以增强我们的信心,增强我们进一步推动改革开放,深化改革、扩大开放的信心。

The third article is the virtue of studying history. Within the process of the entire history, which spirits are there that can be used? At the time, many comrades actually showed a great sense of responsibility when they completed those [WTO] negotiations.

第三条是学史崇德,我们在整个历史进程当中,有哪些精神是可以发扬的?当时很多同志确实表现了很多的担当精神,来完成这一场谈判。

The third article is to let the studies of history be followed by action which means that the reader must act. To research the WTO’s prospects and China’s role int it actually means to draw from China’s 20 years of membership to promote the solution of the issues that currently need to be solved. We still resolutely support the multilateral trade system represented by WTO and acknowledge the WTO as the core of the entire multilateral trade system. Therefore, the prospect of WTO reform is extremely important, as an important part of China’s participation in global governance.

第四条是学史力行,就是要见诸行动了,今天研究世贸组织前景与中国角色,实际上就是借助中国入世20周年这样一个契机来采取一些行动,推动当前必须解决的问题。我们还是坚决支持以WTO为代表的多边贸易体系,承认WTO是整个多边贸易体系的核心。所以WTO的改革前景就非常重要了,是中国参与全球治理的重要组成部分。这其中,中国发挥什么样的作用,在这里都可以好好地研究。

The third [point of view] is that when we study China’s 20 years of WTO membership, we must know clearly what major problems has WTO entry solved for China? In my view, China’s entry into the WTO has brought China’s reform and opening two major breakthroughs:

第三,我们学习中国加入世贸20年历史的成果,要搞清楚中国入世解决了什么重大问题?我觉得中国入世对于中国改革开放来讲,有两个重大的突破:

The first major breakthrough was that by joining the WTO, we made a promise to the world to practice market economy, which is a major historic turning point in China’s reform and opening, because before 1992, market economy was a restricted area, something you couldn’t discuss because market economy simply was capitalism. But by joining the WTO, we promised to practice market economy.

第一个重大突破是我们通过加入世界贸易组织向全世界承诺我们搞市场经济,这是中国改革开放当中一个重大的历史转折,因为1992年以前市场经济是一个禁区,那是不能谈的,市场经济就是资本主义。但是我们通过入世承诺了搞市场经济。

The second major breakthrough was that, by joining the World Trade Organization, we promised, as a developing country opening its market to the world, relatively big market openings, thus accelerating China’s opening towards the outside world. So, these two breakthroughs are actually two major achievements of China joining WTO, and also crucial points with a certain status.

第二个重大突破是我们通过加入世贸组织,承诺了以发展中国家身份向全球开放市场,在很多领域里做了比较大的市场开放,从而大大促进了中国的对外开放。所以这两个突破实际上是中国入世谈判的重大成果,也是入世在中国改革开放史上具有一定地位的两个关键。

For example, at the beginning, we did not promise a market economy, but came under constant pressure to do so. At the time, this was hard for the participants, taking the measure of saying that while we didn’t recognize market economy, we could still agree to refer to a commodity economy, or a planned market economy, and we could still implement that market-economy rules system of theirs.

比如说市场经济,开始我们是不承认的,后来在谈判当中一直逼着我们要承诺搞市场经济,当时参加谈判的人很痛苦,变着法地想讲我们虽然不承认市场经济,叫商品经济也好,叫有计划的市场经济也好,但是我们能够执行你们那一套以市场经济规则体系为基础的市场经济。

____________

Notes

1) Not sure how Long arrives at this interpretation – the 16 characters’ first line goes 科学立法 巩固法治根基 – scientifically legislate and solidify the foundations of rule by law.
____________

Related

Rare public criticism, SCMP, Nov 18, 2018
Milton Friedman’s Misadventures, The American Scholar, Dec 5, 2016
Long and the Smiling Curve, May 17, 2012

____________

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: