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China defends WTO after Trump threat to break organization's trade rules

China defends WTO after Trump threat to break organization's trade rules
The Chinese government said it supports the work of the World Trade Organization (WTO) after President Donald Trump threatened to go against the trade body's rules if they hurt the United States.

"Since China joined the WTO it has always proactively supported the WTO's work, and this position will not change," Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said on Monday.

Keeping the WTO at the center of global trade is profitable for all, he said.

On Wednesday, the Trump administration said it is ready to break WTO rules if they impose on US sovereignty.

“It is time for a more aggressive approach. The Trump administration will use all possible leverage to encourage other countries to give US producers fair, reciprocal access to their markets,” said a leaked document prepared by Washington officials.

"Accordingly, the Trump administration will aggressively defend American sovereignty over matters of trade policy," the report said, according to the Financial Times.

Unlike his successor, Barack Obama emphasized the authority of the WTO, which regulates trade and resolves disputes among its members.

On the campaign trail, Trump pledged to stop companies from moving businesses overseas and force them to create jobs in the US. As President, Trump has threatened to withdraw from the North American Free Trade Agreement if Mexico doesn’t agree to renegotiate the deal. He also jettisoned the Obama-backed Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), which could have become the largest free trade agreement in history.

If the US ditches the WTO, it may create a domino effect, starting the era of economic protectionism worldwide or even trigger a global trade war, experts warn.

"If the Trump administration follows through on the proposals in this document, it would be a body blow to the multinational trade system that the US has helped to build," Eswar Prasad, a senior professor of trade policy at Cornell University, told The Washington Post.