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China's Internet Users Are Less Than Happy About Being Left Out Of A Huge Trade Deal

"What have we not done right after joining the WTO?" many Chinese are asking.

Posted on October 6, 2015, at 6:20 p.m. ET

The seven-year long negotiation of Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) — a trade pact involving the U.S. and eleven other Pacific countries aimed at cutting tariffs — finally came to an end in Atlanta on Monday when the countries finally sealed the deal.

Handout . / Reuters

Both developed and fledgling economies such as Japan and Vietnam are part of it. Left out in the cold: China, the world's second-largest economy, which is definitely part of the "trans-pacific" region.

Win Mcnamee / Getty Images

Chinese President Xi Jinping

President Obama explained why China was on the outside looking in in a statement commemorating the agreement on the TPP.

"When more than 95 percent of our potential customers live outside our borders, we can't let countries like China write the rules of the global economy," it read.

The question is what does "countries like China" mean? Obama didn't spell it out, but Chinese internet users are trying to figure it out for themselves.

Win Mcnamee / Getty Images

Among thousands of comments on Weibo, many are as harsh as this one:

"One country promised when joining the WTO to abolish monopoly in the telecommunications industry, abolish the majority of tariff protection methods...before July 2015, but what about now?"

"There's no 'but', the TPP rejects countries with no credibility," the comment continues, indicating that it's too late to regret for what's not done right.

To be clear, Chinese government does think that it has fulfilled its WTO promise.

"By 2010, all of China's commitments made upon entry into the WTO had been fulfilled," read the White Paper published by the Information Office of China's State Council on the 10-year-anniversary of China joining the WTO.

But to which extent has China fulfilled the promises is another question. An example, as raised by this Weibo user, is that China promised to import more foreign films.


Yes, China is indeed gradually importing more films from abroad, but the current quota only allows 34 films to be screened in Chinese theaters, meaning that a Chinese viewer is limited to less than three foreign films in an average month – natually, the rest of the demand has to be met by piracy and downloading.

Chinese patriots are gonna be patriots, though, and the unfinished sentence makes them furious. Many comments follow this line of thought: "[Obama] means that we should let countries like the U.S. to write rules of the global economy then?!"


Or "alright we don't have to be in charge, but why it should be taken for granted that you [the U.S.] dominate [writing the rules of the global economy]?"

More moderate voices say that China is neither going to end trade nor see its economy collapse, and that in foreign relations enemies aren't forever. But "China didn't fully carry out its WTO promises," which "shouldn't happen anymore."

Indeed, it might be temporary for China to be an outsider to the TPP pack. "China open to any mechanism following @WTO rules," China's state news agency Xinhua quickly tweeted, leaving the door open to it joining in the future.

#China says #TPP key deal for Asia-Pacific, China open to any mechanism following @WTO rules

A BuzzFeed News investigation, in partnership with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, based on thousands of documents the government didn't want you to see.