Shanghai, December 10:

Nobody, especially not China’s Communist Party rulers, would argue against the economic benefits that three decades of market-based reforms have brought to this once poverty-shackled country.

Since Beijing firmly hitched its economic wagon to global commerce when it joined the World Trade Organisation (WTO) five years ago, the changes have been even more pronounced as the Asian giant has grown into the world’s third largest trading power. Yet a growing chorus of officials, academics and experts has demanded the nation defend itself against the dangers of too much of a good thing. Too much capitalism has raised fears in China that its economy is sliding into the grip of powerful multinationals as lawmakers question the firebrand sales of state assets to foreigners.

“There is an economic nationalism emerging in China now and many experts, including me, hold the same opinion,” said Yang Fan, a business professor at Beijing’s China University of Political Science and Law. “Strategic industries and leading companies in these industries, such as nuclear, aerospace and power industries and others must be restricted in the ratio of foreign capital and foreign ownership.” Officials blame foreign firms for unfair competition practices.

WTO benefits

LAIXI: Chui Songde made a life-changing decision in 2001, the year China entered the WTO. He began growing grapes — and it is a move he has never regretted. The annual revenue from his 6,600 sq metres of fertile soil in the east Chinese province of Shandong has multiplied by a factor of nearly six, reaching between $6,400 and $7,600. — AFP