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Home >> Opinion
UPDATED: 19:53, September 07, 2004
ASEAN decision in line with free-trade spirit
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The 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) announced on Saturday they recognize China's full market economy status, boosting the number of countries who do so to 13.

Three ASEAN members - Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand - individually announced their recognition earlier this year.

As well as ASEAN member states, New Zealand, Kyrgyzstan and South Africa have already granted market economy status to China.

But China's major trading partners - the United States, the European Union and Japan - have yet to make the same move.

In its accession agreement to the World Trade Organization (WTO), China agreed to allow the United States and other countries to treat it as a non-market economy for at most 15 years after its membership took effect.

The growing number of anti-dumping cases against China in recent years shows how some countries are abusing China's disadvantage in not being seen as a market economy.

But China's concession then does not mean other countries are entitled to turn a blind eye to the changes taking place in Chinese economic development.

The sea change the Chinese economy has undergone since the late 1970s, when the reform and opening-up policy was initiated, is stunning.

More than 20 years of economic reform have seen China's central planned economy being transformed into a market one.

China's entry to the WTO in 2001 went further to demonstrate China's unwavering will to integrate itself into the global economy.

Failing or refusing to acknowledge China's market economy status and its efforts to improve it will only hamper free and fair trade, to the detriment of both sides.

ASEAN's latest collective decision to grant China market economy status may serve as an impetus for faster trade development.

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