Andrey Krushinsky: New year brings new laws

Within 1.5 workdays at the beginning of January, 219 cars were imported through customs of Huanshan in China’s south. This is one of the results China's switching to a new legislative base. The import of limousines to China was stagnant in December, which is explained by the old customs tariffs, according to which an 80% duty was imposed on limousines with engines of over three liters and a 70% duty on cars with smaller engines. Starting with January 2002, the tariffs dropped to 53.7% and 40.8% respectively. This means great savings on the import of every Mercedes or Nissan car.

The reduction of the import tariffs for limousines became possible after China’s entry into WTO. The reduction of customs tariffs on most imported products (and the tariffs are to drop gradually every year, as it has been pledged by China at the WTO entry) is unfavorable for the state: budgetary revenues will reduce, but what is more important, the measure may entail closure of the domestic enterprises and unemployment will rise.

Entry into the WTO means a transition to a new way of living for China, which is also supplied with an amendment of the legislation. Many conferences on economic, political, and ideological problems on the national and provincial levels are to be held within the period of December to January. The transformation of the governmental and administrative functions is also to bediscussed at the sessions. In accordance with the WTO regulations, direct interference of the authorities in the economy and business of the enterprises is to be reduced. As a result, as it is expected, Chinese enterprises will obtain more independence.

By the end of 2001, six laws were adjusted to WTO regulations. These are the laws on joint-stock enterprises, enterprises with joint investments, enterprises working with foreign capital, on brand names, and on intelectual rights and patents. And this was only a beginning: now, all 25 ministries and state committees under the jurisdiction of China’s Central government, provincial, and regional authorities are amending the legislation of China.

China’s Minister for foreign trade and economic cooperation Shi Guangsheng says that “the things the people got used to will not be used any more.” Over 1,150 laws, normative acts, and regulations currently in force will be amended. The government will concentrate on economic regulation, market control, management of society, and public servicing to make for the effective settlement of problems that the market fails to solve.

An expressive formula was recently proclaimed by a famous Chinese economist: “In accordance with the old laws, the Chinese government could do everything that is not prohibited by the law, but in accordance with the new ones, the government will be allowed to do only what is provided by the laws.” This means an end to the paternalist state system that has been basic in China for several thousands of years.

It is generally known that Shanghai has predominated in China’s politics for many years already. In addition, Jiang Zemin and many other leaders of the Chinese Communist Party and Chinese People’s Republic come from Shanghai. The Outlook, a political weekly, published a statement of the secretary of Shanghai’s Communist Party Huang Ju: “As the reforms proceed and become more open after joining the world economy, the social importance of China’s economy will be greater than over the last ten years. The basic elements of the economy, organizational structures, and relations between interests will be amended and will have an influence on the politics, culture, and traditions of China.”

In a word, January 2002 may be for China’s history as significant as October 1949 was, when the creation of the China People’s Republic was proclaimed.

Andrey Krushinsky PRAVDA.Ru Beijing

Translated by Maria Gousseva

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