BEIJING (CHINA DAILY/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - There can be no order without rules. And trade is no exception to this. The World Trade Organisation (WTO) regulates the trade between nations to ensure that trade flows as smoothly, predictably and freely as possible.
China has spared no efforts in honouring the promises it made to join the WTO, and the country has not only abided by the WTO rules over the past 17 years. It has contributed a great deal to the development of the world economy and is a staunch defender of the WTO trade system.
In contrast, the Donald Trump administration's unilateralism and trade protectionism pose an ever greater threat to free trade. Under the unjustifiable pretext of national security, it has violated the United States' WTO obligations by imposing tariffs on steel and aluminum imports, and discriminating among its WTO trade partners.
There is no denying that China has benefited a lot as a member of the WTO, which has facilitated its opening-up and reform. Without integrating its economy with that of the world, it would have been impossible for the country to maintain its double-digit economic growth for more than a decade.
Yet the other side of the coin is that as a rule-abiding member of the WTO, China has also contributed to the world economy. Had it not been for China's help and support, it would not have been possible for the US and other major Western countries to have emerged from the devastating effects of the 2008 financial crisis so quickly.
And without China's opening-up, it would not have been possible for so many transnational corporations to benefit from their business in China. And of course, those businesses have provided jobs for China and enabled the country to earn more from international trade.
Free trade is undoubtedly reciprocal. China is a beneficiary of free trade within the framework of the WTO, but it also benefits others. It is a contributor to the development of the world economy and defender of the current world economic order.
Because they fail to appreciate this, some Western countries regard China as simply a free rider on globalization and refuse to recognise China's status as a market economy as they should.
That the US refuses to settle its trade dispute with China within the framework of the WTO only points to its own lack of respect for the WTO trade rules.
China will continue to abide by WTO rules and firmly defend the current world economic order, as it believes that rules-based multilateralism is essential for the healthy development of the world economy.
The China Daily is a member of The Straits Times media partner Asia News Network, an alliance of 23 news media entities.