China's WTO Accession: Economic, Legal, and Political Implications

52 Pages Posted: 11 Jan 2008

See all articles by Karen Halverson Cross

Karen Halverson Cross

University of Illinois Chicago School of Law


This article discusses the unparalleled economic, legal and political change that has confronted China during WTO accession. The article focuses on the relationship between China's unique WTO accession process and China's reform over the past two decades. WTO accession has acted as a lever for economic and legal reform by locking in reform and making it irrevocable. The article begins with a historical background of China's long road to accession and the way that this process worked to further the previously instated economic reform program. Next, it analyzes the manner in which WTO accession has initiated profound legal reform. The final section of the article discusses the effects of adhering to WTO-related obligations on the future of political reform, and suggests that the resulting weakened control of the Communist Party may ultimately lead either to continued growth and political liberalization or mass unrest and a backlash of government repression.

Keywords: China, WTO, Accession

Suggested Citation

Cross, Karen H., China's WTO Accession: Economic, Legal, and Political Implications. Boston College International and Comparative Law Review, Vol. 27, No. 2, 2004, Available at SSRN:

Karen H. Cross (Contact Author)

University of Illinois Chicago School of Law ( email )

300 South State Street
Chicago, IL 60604
United States
312.360.2652 (Phone)


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