No thaw for China, Taiwan in WTO membership

A curi­ous fact about WTO: you don’t need to be a coun­try to join. The basic require­ment is sov­er­eign­ty over a cus­toms ter­ri­to­ry. That is, you have to be able to set the tar­iffs and local tax­es of a defined geo­graph­i­cal area. So ‘cus­toms ter­ri­to­ries’ such as HongKong [once UK, now Chi­na] are wel­come as full WTO mem­bers. Taipei [Chi­na] is also in this cat­e­go­ry as far as WTO is con­cerned: it joined WTO imme­di­ate­ly after Chi­na. Anoth­er fact: mem­bers have a con­trac­tu­al rela­tion­ship with each oth­er. It’s not sim­ply a joint enter­prise like, for exam­ple, the Unit­ed Nations found­ed on a treaty. It’s actu­al­ly a con­tract in which each mem­ber exchanges spe­cif­ic rights and oblig­a­tions with oth­er mem­bers on a rec­i­p­ro­cal, bilat­er­al basis. But the hope that this peace­ful reci­procity would lead to oth­er exchanges between Tai­wan and Chi­na is, so far, vain accord­ing to this “Chi­na Post”: report of a Har­vard study. bq. While most hoped that Tai­wan and Chi­na join­ing the WTO would pro­vide an oppor­tu­ni­ty for both eco­nom­ic and polit­i­cal break­throughs between the two side, in real­i­ty, there have been no sub­stan­tial developments

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