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Wednesday, 12 December, 2001, 21:19 GMT
Intense debate over China WTO entry
Chinese products
Foreign competition will challenge Chinese manufacturers
China's entry to the World Trade Organisation earlier this week has engendered much soul searching among media commentators.

While some have highlighted the numerous opportunities for the country to prosper and develop, there have been a number of warnings of pitfalls and obstacles.

One of Hong Kong's major independent English-language dailies, Hong Kong iMail, highlighted media control as one potential problem area.

Political pressure

"If there is one sector that is more closed than any other, it is the media," it said, reporting that a Hong Kong investor had withdrawn from bidding for China broadcast rights to the next year's football World Cup due to political pressure from Beijing.

The authorities "were angered at the idea that a company other than China Central Television could win the rights".

CCTV is the dominant player and Beijing is eager to keep it that way

Hong Kong iMail

"The media are still regarded as sensitive by the nervous authoritarian regime in Beijing. While global media organisations are clamouring to grab a piece of the pie, and many are willing to sell their souls for the business opportunities, it will be a long time before China is willing to loosen its control," Hong Kong iMail said.

"CCTV is the dominant player and Beijing is eager to keep it that way."

It suggested that sports broadcasting would be a good place to start to open up "as there can be little that is politically sensitive about it".

"If Beijing is serious about living up to the spirit of WTO, the days of putting pressure on companies that compete with state-controlled businesses must end."

To engage in internet business in China, we need courage and patience, like breaking through brambles and thorns

Commentator in Xinwen Zhoukan
The internet industry was also under threat, warned a commentary in the Chinese-language Xinwen Zhoukan, taking issue with the idea that as it had been linked to the world since the outset of the world wide web, China's internet sector "need not be alarmed at globalisation".

"China's internet development is at least three to five years behind Europe and the United States. Its laws are imperfect, social support system immature, the consumption concept is outdated and its credit system cannot keep up with development needs."

"To engage in internet business in China, we need courage and patience, like breaking through brambles and thorns," the commentator lamented.


Central China's Hunan Ribao newspaper warned of foreign head-hunters on the domestic job scene.

"Some well-known head-hunting companies from abroad have allegedly already long been prepared for the struggle for qualified staff after China's WTO accession by storing up lists of around 7,000 highly qualified specialised personnel in Chinese financial circles whom they are determined to get."

A dozen well-known multinational companies had held recruitment fairs at Beijing University.

"Sometimes two recruitment fairs were held on the same day, showing the degree of intensity of the struggle for qualified personnel," Hunan Ribao anguished.

We should improve the way the national government administers the economy

Renmin Ribao
The Communist Party daily Renmin Ribao called for China to use WTO entry "to open up further to foreign countries, make strides and gain an upper hand".

"We should improve the way the national government administers the economy, improve the consistency and transparency of policies and improve the ability to handle issues in accordance with international practices."

"We should regard WTO entry as a new starting point," the communist daily added.

The official China Daily quoted environmental officials as saying WTO entry would benefit the environmental protection industry, which is seen as backward compared with other countries.

The officials said Chinese products were "poor in terms of longevity and credibility".

"Under such circumstances, it will be a win-all situation when foreign environment protection firms enter China."

BBC Monitoring, based in Caversham in southern England, selects and translates information from radio, television, press, news agencies and the Internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages.

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