- NBR - The National Bureau of Asian Research

The Impact of the Kosovo Conflict on China's Political Leaders and Prospects for WTO Accession

The bombing of the Chinese embassy in Belgrade and the U.S. rejection in April of China’s unprecedented concessions for joining the WTO exposed the limits of what is possible in U.S.-China relations. While the long-term prospects for U.S.-China relations generally remain positive, the events in April and May have put key reform-minded leaders advocating further integration into the global economy, such as President Jiang Zemin and Premier Zhu Rongji, on the defensive, forcing China’s elite to devise new policies to appease domestic critics. As a result, the conventional wisdom that China needs to make the next move in repairing U.S.-China relations should be challenged as it underestimates the difficulty of the Chinese political reality. Without a renewed expression of interest on the part of the United States, China is likely to postpone serious efforts to join the WTO and significantly stall U.S.-China relations.