Ministry accuses US of jeopardising clean-energy co-operation and undermining global efforts to cut emissions
The Chinese government has hit back against a US investigation into exports of wind turbine towers, warning that the escalating trade spat runs counter to global efforts to curb carbon emissions and could damage clean-energy co-operation between the two countries.
The US Commerce Department announced last week that it will respond to a complaint by a group of American wind turbine tower manufacturers over low-cost towers imported from China and Vietnam by launching a formal probe into whether the imports breach trade rules.
However, China’s Ministry of Commerce responded immediately, issuing a statement on its website in which it criticised the investigation and offered a thinly veiled threat that China could take retaliatory action if the US government imposes import tariffs.
“This investigation will not only be harmful to the development of Sino-US new-energy cooperation; it will harm the interests of the US industry, and is not in line with global efforts on climate change and energy security,” it said.
The ministry also urged the US to stand by commitments made at the G20 to avoid introducing new protectionist measures.
However, some critics maintain that the generous subsidies and preferential treatment the Chinese government offers many of its clean-tech firms amount to unfair competition.
China’s reaction to the new probe almost precisely mirrors its initial reaction to news last year that the US would investigate whether imports of solar technologies are in line with World Trade Organisation rules.
Chinese officials escalated the row last November by announcing they would launch their own investigation into the level of subsidy the US government has provided its domestic clean-energy firms.
“The Ministry of Commerce has decided to initiate a trade barrier investigation into policy support and subsidies for the US renewable energy sector,” it said in a statement, adding that US policies “constitute a trade barrier against the export of Chinese renewable energy products to the United States” and “violated the United States’ commitments under World Trade Organisation rules, and are an unreasonable barrier and restriction on China’s renewable energy industry, reducing the competitiveness of Chinese products in the US market”.