China Invokes Morals Defense Against WTO Ruling

Fighting an attempt to open media distribution within its borders, China is appealing a World Trade Organization ruling against it, citing a necessity to protect its “public morals.”
The defense comes in reaction to a WTO ruling that China must cease routing U.S.-based artists and production companies through state-controlled distributors. The Wall Street Journal notes that, if implemented, such a ruling would “be a boon to Western makers of movies, music and video games who currently face extra costs and obstructions to distribute in China.”

The article notes that the “public moral” defense has been used only once before, by the U.S. in 2005, as part of an unsuccessful attempt to defend a ban on Internet gambling. Any country using the defense must prove that trade restrictions are essential to protecting its morals.

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