China joined the WTO in 2001 under exceptionally unfavourable, non-reciprocal and asymmetric terms of membership. China’s less-than-equal status raises difficult legal questions with respect to the rule of law in the WTO, as they call into question the normativity of the fundamental principles that underlie the WTO system. It is argued that, in DSB cases involving China’s WTO-plus obligations, restrictive interpretation should generally be used to determine the meaning of an ambiguous provision, as a value-oriented interpretative approach in favour of the equilibrium of rights and obligations of China and in deference to the uniformity and integrity of the WTO legal system. For bilateral trade relations to be mutually advantageous and more balanced, major WTO members should offer equal status to China in the world trading system, in exchange for China’s full compliance with its WTO commitments and greater contribution to the world trading system. This entails the development of reciprocal and cooperative trade policies on both sides.So keep an eye out for this paper in a future issue of the Chinese Journal of International Law. And in the mean time: Could someone please get me a tissue?