Many of the questions raised about China’s accession to the World Trade Organization reflect an obsession with what the Chinese can do for American business. Little thought has been given to what China can do for the world trading community and for the WTO, as an institution. Rather than focus on our narrow self-interest, we should be asking what China’s entry into the WTO will mean for the global economy and the development of international trade law.

Legitimacy. A commonly asked question is whether China is ready for WTO membership. Is it prepared to open its markets to world trade? A converse question needs to be considered: Can the WTO wait any longer for China? Until China becomes a member, the title “World” Trade Organization remains a misnomer. No organization truly is “world” if it fails to include 1.25 billion of the planet’s population of roughly 5.5 billion.

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