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China Still Struggles to Reform Laws to Meet WTO Obligations - 2002-03-09

Two and a half months after China joined the World Trade Organization, the country is still struggling to revise laws to meet its obligations to the global trade body.

China's Parliament chief, Li Peng, said that much work is needed before China can honor its commitments to the World Trade Organization.

In his address to the National People's Congress in Beijing Saturday, Mr. Li said that China must hurry to revise laws and regulations to bring them strictly in line with WTO rules. At the same time, he says lawmakers should exploit the rules of the global trade body, to protect and promote China's economic development.

Communist China became a member of the WTO this year, following a 15-year quest. Membership will gradually open China's markets to a flood of foreign goods and services. It will also threaten many of the country's inefficient and protected sectors such as agriculture and car manufacturing.

But hundreds of old laws and regulations still conflict with the WTO's market-opening requirements. And many local officials remain ignorant about their new obligations.

Mr. Li, China's second most powerful leader, said local governments in particular need to revamp regulations to conform with WTO rules. He said legal revisions are specifically needed in the areas of insurance, foreign trade, company monopolies, and intellectual property rights.

In his annual work report, Mr. Li touched on the topic of corruption among government officials, but did not raise any specific proposals to combat the problem. Many Chinese say that corruption is the number one problem facing the Communist Party leadership in China.