US President George W Bush has granted China permanent normal trading relations, effective from the start of this year. The decision, which gives China the right to export its goods to the US under the same low tariff rates enjoyed by most other trading countries, was granted two weeks after China joined the World Trade Organisation. WTO rules state that all countries must normalise trade relations with each other. Since 1980, these trading rights were debated and voted on annually by Congress. Although the vote has always been clearly in favour of extending China normal trading rights, the fierce debates over issues such as China’s human rights record was a major irritant to Beijing.
“Annual reviews had a negative impact on the development of bilateral economic and trade relations,” said a spokeswoman for China’s foreign ministry.