Washington: The bipartisan legislation passed by the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee seeks to eliminate China’s classification as a “developing country.” This move follows similar legislation previously approved by the House of Representatives in March.
Unanimously endorsed by the committee, the legislation, referred to as the “Developing Nation Status Act,” establishes a US policy that disallows granting China the status of a developing country in future international treaties and organizations.
The legislation mandates the Secretary of State to actively pursue reclassifying China as a “developed country” in treaties or organizations that allow for such adjustments. The Senate’s decision aligns with the previous action taken by the House of Representatives.
Advocates of the bill argue that China’s developing country status affords it certain privileges within specific international organizations and treaties. US lawmakers maintain that China can no longer be considered a developing country due to its substantial economy, military might, and extensive global investments. They contend that China has been exploiting this designation to gain an unfair advantage in multilateral negotiations.
On March 27, the US House of Representatives passed the “China is Not a Developing Country Act” with a unanimous vote of 415 to 0. The sponsors of the House bill emphasized China’s exploitation of its developing country status to secure development assistance and loans from international organizations.
Subsequently, China utilized its “Belt and Road” initiative to provide substantial loans for infrastructure projects in developing countries, leading to these nations falling into a debt trap. Lawmakers accused China of diverting funds that should rightfully be allocated to other developing countries and instead financing its Belt and Road Initiative.
Despite being the world’s second-largest economy, China is categorized as a developing country by certain international organizations, including the United Nations. Developing countries receive preferential treatment in terms of market access, loans, and technical assistance from global bodies such as the World Trade Organization and the World Bank.
Developing nations also enjoy favourable treatment regarding issues such as climate change responsibilities.
Patrick Cronin, Director of the Asia-Pacific Security Project at the Hudson Institute and a former official of the US Department of Defense and State Department, highlighted in an April interview with Al Jazeera that China aims to exploit its developing country status for its own benefit while simultaneously pursuing global dominance. These two objectives are fundamentally incompatible.
Adopting a firm stance against China represents one of the few areas of agreement between Democrats and Republicans in the US Congress. Multiple bills have been introduced by members of Congress to address competition with the Chinese government. On June 8, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee also approved the Taiwan Protection and National Resilience Act, which mandates government agencies to provide reports on US strategies for preparing and responding to a potential Chinese invasion of Taiwan.
Meanwhile, China’s foreign ministry stated that it is not the United States prerogative to determine China’s status as a developing country.
According to Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Wang Wenbin, China’s designation as the world’s largest developing country is firmly grounded in facts and international law, and it cannot be easily negated by a US congressional bill. Wang Wenbin made these remarks during a regular press conference, as reported by Global Times.
“The US is not classifying China as a ‘developed country’ to appreciate or recognize China’s success in development. The true motive behind revoking China’s developing country status is to impede China’s progress,” Wang Wenbin emphasized.