Illusion for the US to use WTO to contain China

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By Li Qingqing Source: Global Times

Illustration: Liu Rui/GT

The World Trade Organization (WTO) on Tuesday said that the US violated international trade rules by imposing tariffs on China in 2018 during the US-initiated trade war. Unsurprisingly, Washington expressed its dissatisfaction with the result, by describing the WTO as “completely inadequate.” US President Donald Trump said he had to “do something about the WTO because they’ve let China get away with murder.”

The US is constantly undermining the international order it has established. Previously, the Trump administration accused the World Health Organization (WHO) of failing to make “the requested and greatly needed reforms” and announced its withdrawal from WHO at the peak of the pandemic, bringing great challenges to the world. Does Washington really believe that these international organizations must take American interests as the highest standard, and become US tools to contain China? Such an illusion is destined to fail.

The WTO has effectively maintained the multilateral trading system. Being an irreplaceable global trade model, the WTO has great significance for ensuring global trade flows smoothly and freely. The multilateralism it represents has clashed with “America First,” becoming an obstacle of the US to pursue self-interests.

Washington must understand that the WTO will not become a handy tool, nor a puppet for it to contain China and achieve its hegemonic goal.

As the most powerful country, the US is not only a rule maker, but is also forcing other countries to accept its violation of rules. Washington believes other countries must say yes to such a US privilege, as they firmly abide by the rules. However, the establishment of rules and order must conform to morality. When morality and power conflict with each other, the US will use power to suppress morality. It did not even hesitate to start a trade war against China and withdraw from the WHO, destroying its own moral foundation.

The WTO’s latest ruling exposed the US’ unilateral and unethical behavior. The US is no longer capable of leading the world in an anti-China alliance. It should know that the multilateral trading system, under the leadership of the WTO, is still the mainstream of the world. If the US continues to act capriciously, then it will only face more setbacks in the international community, and feel more discomfort and isolation. In the end, Washington will destroy its own international status and image.

The US has already become the biggest rule-breaker in the world. And in a world lacking rules, all countries will inevitably fall into a lose-lose situation. This will be a huge risk for the world, and the US should be held accountable.

Undermining dispute settlement mechanisms and destroying the international rule of law – is this the most significant legacy that the Trump administration wants to leave in history?

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