WTO entry will put 40 million Chinese out of work

Posted: 21 May 2002

China's membership of the World Trade organisation will cost the country 40 million jobs - an increase of 50 per cent in its unemployment rate, reports Nick Mathiaso.

The prediction comes from a top United Nations official, who blames the 'strictures of WTO membership' for forcing the abolition of government subsidies on Chinese products.

Kerstin Leitner, the UN Development Programme's China representative, warned that growing inequalities were leading to serious social unrest, which is being taken to the streets because 'there are inadequate dispute-resolution systems in place'.

Leitner, who has 20 years' experience of Chinese affairs, also called upon Chinese trade unions to stand up for workers' rights rather than ally themselves with the Communist Party.

Concerns are growing about the treatment of Chinese workers (above) at the hands of inward investors - particularly US firms. Reports have recently highlighted overseas firms demanding employees work 18-hour days in abysmal conditions.

Leitner, a German, has been in London to promote corporate social responsibility from overseas firms, which have invested $69 billion in China.

Source: The Observer (UK), January 27, 2002.