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WTO Ruling Upheld


A WTO decision on China’s foreign media restrictions lives on, overruling Beijing’s recent appeal. The Chinese Commerce Ministry deemed the verdict regretful.

At the moment, the Chinese Government only permits the distribution of 20 foreign movies a year, and selling music online remains illegal.

James Cameron, who is presently in China for the release of “Avatar,” remarked, “China’s economy is expanding very, very rapidly. And I think the feeling right now is that perhaps it doesn’t need to be protecting itself quite as much.” The restrictions inhibit significant revenue. A number of US companies filed complaints that led to the initial decision. Among others, this group included Disney, 20th Century Fox, Warner Bros, and Sony Music Entertainment. US Trade Representative Ron Kirk commented, “US companies and workers are at the cutting edge of these industries, and they deserve a full chance to compete under agreed WTO rules.”

China’s Government has a year to comply with the verdict. International law prohibits confining media distribution to government-controlled companies. This decision will not flood Chinese markets with movies; nor will it assault China’s “Great Firewall” on websites like Wikipedia and Twitter. It sets a foundation to challenge these issues with future opposition. A Chinese iTunes store and a breakdown of sanctions on videogame creators are likely to be the more immediate results.

This represented the final opportunity to appeal this ruling. This represents one of China’s most influential WTO defeats.


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