Free Trade: China's New Party

The world's most populous nation is finally a member of the global free-trade club. What does that mean for U.S. business?

China officially joined the World Trade Organization on Dec. 11, but the celebratory fireworks went off nearly two months earlier, at a gathering in Shanghai of the world's top business and government leaders. For 20 minutes, bursts of communist red and capitalist gold above the Huangpu River reminded onlookers that China invented such displays, more than 1,000 years ago, when the Asian giant had little contact with the outside world. At the Shanghai show, however, the fireworks were choreographed by a company named Grucci, based in Brookhaven, N.Y.--an emblem of China's acceptance of the competition and specialization embodied in global commerce.

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