Wang bears mes­sage: End pro­tec­tion­ism FM urges Ger­many to back China’s ac­cep­tance as mar­ket econ­omy

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - FRONT PAGE - By ZHANG YUNBI zhangyunbi@chi­

Bei­jing sent a strong sig­nal to the Euro­pean Union to scrap pro­tec­tion­ism with For­eign Min­is­ter Wang Yi call­ing on Ger­many to prompt the EU to re­dress a lapse in World Trade Or­ga­ni­za­tion pro­to­col.

Meet­ing with Wang on Thurs­day, Ger­man Vice-Chan­cel­lor and For­eign Min­is­ter Sig­mar Gabriel said Ber­lin would help pro­mote talks on the China-EU Bi­lat­eral In­vest­ment Treaty and wel­comed Chi­nese in­vest­ment.

The meet­ing on the side­lines of the G20 for­eign min­is­ters meet­ing in Bonn raised the is­sue of pro­tec­tion­ism, which clouds the EU’s ties with its se­cond-largest trade part­ner, China.

Wang told Gabriel that China hopes Ger­many will fur­ther play an ac­tive role in prompt­ing the EU to honor at an early date Ar­ti­cle 15 of the Pro­to­col on China’s Ac­ces­sion to the WTO.

Ac­cord­ing to Ar­ti­cle 15, the use of the “sur­ro­gate coun­try” ap­proach in anti-dump­ing probes against China should have ex­pired on De­cem­ber 11.

Through that ap­proach, WTO mem­bers use the costs of pro­duc­tion in a third coun­try to cal­cu­late the value of prod­ucts from coun­tries on a “non­mar­ket econ­omy” list, per­mit­ting high tar­iffs to be levied in trade dis­putes.

The sur­ro­gate coun­try ap­proach leads to dis­crim­i­na­tive an­tidump­ing probes and has trig­gered wide­spread com­plaints by Chi­nese busi­nesses, ob­servers said.

The EU failed to com­ply with Ar­ti­cle 15, and China launched dis­pute set­tle­ment pro­ce­dures in De­cem­ber at the WTO by re­quest­ing con­sul­ta­tions with the EU and the United States.

Cui Hong jian, di­rec­tor of the Euro­pean Depart­ment at the China In­sti­tute of In­ter­na­tional Stud­ies, said what the EU had done “posed a bar­rier to re­in­forced China-EU trade co­op­er­a­tion”.

Al­though China has sought WTO dis­pute set­tle­ment pro­ce­dures, Wang in­di­cated on Thurs­day that Bei­jing was will­ing to re­solve this is­sue in a bi­lat­eral con­text, Cui said.

Cui said it was time for the EU to re­think the is­sue as it faces a chang­ing trade land­scape, and the ad­min­is­tra­tion of US Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump was pres­sur­ing the EU on trade and fi­nan­cial is­sues.

Chen Fengy­ing, a se­nior re­searcher on world econ­omy at the China In­sti­tutes of Con­tem­po­rary In­ter­na­tional Re­la­tions, said the EU’s fail­ure to honor Ar­ti­cle 15 sab­o­taged equal­ity and af­fected talks on the China-EU Bi­lat­eral In­vest­ment Treaty.

Ger­many’s host­ing of the G20 meet­ings this year pro­vides a good chance for it to work with China, the host coun­try last year, to pro­mote fair trade, Chen said.

In an­other de­vel­op­ment, me­dia have spec­u­lated that Wang and US Sec­re­tary of State Rex Tiller­son could pos­si­bly meet this week.

An­a­lysts said the two coun­tries should seize the chance to talk on key top­ics, such as

the South China Sea is­sue, to keep their re­la­tions on track.

Amid sim­mer­ing ten­sion on the Korean Penin­sula, the meet­ing of the US and Chi­nese diplo­mats would be the first high-level one since Trump took of­fice on Jan 20.

When asked on Thurs­day whether they would meet on the side­lines, For­eign Min­istry spokesman Geng Shuang said he had no in­for­ma­tion on the mat­ter.

On is­sues likely to be raised at the po­ten­tial meet­ing, Wu Xinbo, di­rec­tor of the Cen­ter for Amer­i­can Stud­ies at Fu­dan Univer­sity in Shang­hai, said China would fo­cus on the South China Sea sit­u­a­tion.

Fan Jishe, a re­searcher of US stud­ies at the Chi­nese Academy of So­cial Sci­ences, said the meet­ing was needed to out­line t he diplo­matic road map for work­ing-level con­tacts.

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