House Unanimously Passes Bill To Revoke China’s Special Treatment As A ‘Developing Country’
Biden XI
Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

Members of the House unanimously passed legislation on Monday meant to revoke the United States treating China as a “developing country” in treaties and international organizations.

Nations designated as developing countries, sometimes called emerging markets, can often receive special treatment in loan application processes from international entities such as the World Trade Organization. The PRC is Not a Developing Country Act, which passed with the affirmative votes of 415 lawmakers, would require the United States to influence international organizations to designate China as upper middle income, high income, or developed.

“We cannot let the People’s Republic of China exploit countries in need and take advantage of international treaties and organizations,” Rep. Young Kim (R-CA), a sponsor of the bill, said in a press release. “The PRC is Not a Developing Country Act will ensure that the Chinese government is not receiving favorable treatment and influence at the expense of truly developing nations. I thank my colleagues for their bipartisan support of this bill.”

China presently has a GDP per capita of $12,556, according to data from the World Bank, an amount of annual economic output per person comparable to those of Russia and Costa Rica. The United States has a GDP per capita of $70,249.

The World Trade Organization, in which the United States and China are both members, does not maintain an official definition of “developing country” or “developed country.” Some agreements with the entity “provide developing countries with longer transition periods before they are required to fully implement the agreement,” according to the group’s website.

“The PRC exploits their developing country status by applying for development assistance and loans from international organizations despite spending trillions on infrastructure projects in developing countries as part of their debt trap diplomacy scam known as the Belt and Road Initiative,” Kim contended in remarks on the House floor. “In fact, the PRC’s withdrawal of loans takes away from actual developing countries and helps the PRC finance its Belt and Road program. We are long overdue to level the playing field.”

Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT) has similarly proposed the Ending China’s Developing Nation Status Act, which directs officials to prevent China from receiving developing nation status in future treaties and within international organizations. “It’s absurd that, given their defense expenditures and massive amount of outbound and inbound foreign investment, China continues to be treated as a developing nation on the global stage,” the lawmaker said.

The moves to end developing nation status for China occur amid increasingly strained relations between the United States and the communist country. American lawmakers are seeking to ban the social media platform TikTok, which is owned by Chinese technology company ByteDance, across the United States over national security and data privacy concerns. TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew vowed last week before the House Energy and Commerce Committee that neither TikTok nor ByteDance is an “agent of China or any other country.”

Relations were also strained after at least one Chinese surveillance balloon traversed the continental United States last month. The vessel crossed Montana, the location of many defense assets and missile silos, then traveled over states such as Kansas and Missouri before it was shot down by the American military off the coast of the Carolinas. The balloon was reportedly one of several deployed over military sites across the planet.

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