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Thursday, 27 December, 2001, 06:21 GMT
China publishes WTO terms in Chinese
Electronics production line
China's biggest export - its highly competitive, low-cost labour force
China's talks about the terms under which it joined the World Trade Organisation are long over, the details now set in stone.

But only outside the country. Until now, the Chinese people have not had access to the terms and conditions in their own language.

But according to Chinese state media, the Chinese version of the documents of accession have now been released on the Ministry of Foreign Trade and Economic Cooperation's website.

Among the documents are the agreements with the US and the European Union on tariff cuts, tax changes, investment liberalisation and market entry timetables which paved the way for China to join the WTO.

The compromises reached could deal serious damage to China's majority agricultural population.

And struggling state-owned businesses face a degree of genuine foreign competition for the first time, raising the spectre in many minds of rampaging unemployment.

That, say analysts, is one of the key reasons for keeping the details out of the hands of the general public till all was signed, sealed and delivered.

Generally, the WTO and the implications of entry remain something of a mystery among the Chinese, according to recent surveys.

A poll conducted by a cabinet-level research group suggested that over 40% of farmers between 18 and 30 years old did not know about impending WTO accession.

The poll, reported in the state-owned English language paper China Daily, also said more than one fiffth of businesspeople admitted they knew little or nothing about the WTO.

See also:

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