China: US ‘sabotages’ global trade system

BEIJINGChina ratcheted up its opposition to the US investigation into its intellectual property (IP) practices, accusing the Trump administration of sabotaging the international trading system, and again pledging to defend its interests if necessary.

At the same time, Ministry of Commerce spokesman Gao Feng said at a briefing yesterday in Beijing that the two nations have more shared interests than disputes and stressed that cooperation is the best way to address any differences.

“The US investigation of China based on domestic laws sabotages the existing international trading system, and has poured cold water on all parties that have been working to promote bilateral economic ties,” Gao said. He added that China was strongly displeased by what it called “unilateral and protectionist” action.

The remarks took a sharper tone than the ministry’s statement following an announcement last Friday of the investigation by US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer. The US is probing China’s practices on IP, technology transfer and innovation to determine if the behaviour is “unreasonable or discriminatory”, or restricts US commerce. President Donald Trump asked Lighthizer earlier this month to consider such a move.

Gao said China hopes to work with the US to consolidate achievements from previous negotiations and to reach further positive outcomes.

Trade tensions between the world’s two biggest economies have showed signs of heating up after a short honeymoon period. Earlier this week, the US asked the World Trade Organisation (WTO) to set up a dispute settlement panel to examine China’s administration of tariff rate quotas on agricultural products including wheat, rice and corn, which could force the Asian nation to change its policies or face retaliation in the scenario of a US victory.

China expressed regret at the US decision to move forward with the case, and will properly address the issue under the WTO rules, said Gao. The US asked China for consultations in December, and China has provided clarification and offered resolution, the spokesman said.

He added that the recent antidumping reviews China launched on two types of optical fibre products made in the US were not retaliatory action against the US probe.

“The two cases are conducted completely in accordance with the law,” Gao said.

The ministry announced on Tuesday that it will review anti-dumping measures against dispersion unshifted single-mode optical fibre made in the US and European Union, a potential step toward higher tariffs on those imports. It marked the second investigation in a week after another probe on Aug 18 to decide whether to extend anti-dumping duties on US and Japanese optical fibre preform, a glass product used in fibre-optic cables. — Bloomberg