China lashes at U.S. probe into Chinese clean energy policies

08:10, October 18, 2010      

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U.S. probe into Chinese clean energy policies, dubbed Section 301, will harm the United States itself by revealing more of its own subsidies to new energy businesses, Zhang Guobao, head of the National Energy Bureau, said Sunday evening.

The U.S. Trade Representative's office started the investigation on Oct. 15 in response to the United Steelworkers Union's complaint on Sept. 9 that China's support for its renewable energy industries gave Chinese producers unfair edges over competitors.

"Chinese subsidies to new energies companies are very small, but the United States had subsidized the new energy enterprises with 4.6 billion U.S. dollars in cash in the first nine months of 2010, including 3 billion U.S. dollars to wind power enterprises," Zhang said.

Zhang rejected charges that China's wind power bid prefers Chinese enterprises and has discriminated against foreign companies.

"China has no discriminatory items on new energy equipment producers," Zhang said.

Many foreign wind power equipment producers participated in bidding in China and some won biddings from 2003 to 2005, Zhang said.

But chances for them to win have been dropping as they offer prices much higher than the Chinese companies, Zhang said.

"In contrast to China's open attitude, the United States issued a bill in 2009 to subsidize renewable energies, energy efficiency and smart power grid sectors. Among the subsidies, 25.2 billion U.S. dollars went to the renewable energy sectors," Zhang said.

The subsidized U.S. solar power sectors are required to use domestically made equipment in the six-month rule starting Aug. 16 in 2010, Zhang said.

"How much on earth has China exported new energy products to the United States?" Zhang asked.

"We have only exported three wind turbines to the United States, or less than 10,000 kw (of generating capacity). The U.S. General Electric Company, however, exported 80,000 kw of wind turbines to China in 2005 and the figure increased to about 340,000 kw in 2009," Zhang said, adding that its total wind turbine exports to China topped 1.13 million kw in the past five years.

"China's wind power (equipment) market stood at 85 billion yuan in 2009, about 21 percent of which was imported from overseas," Zhang said, adding that it showed China's wind power provided large opportunities for foreign producers to send exports to China.

China and the United States should carry out dialogues in new energy sectors, Zhang said.

The United States had proposed to communicate through video meetings on Oct. 12 with China on new energy products, but it also had been postponing the dialogue before declaring the probe on Oct. 15.

"I was very much astonished at it, wondering what the United States wants. Do they want fair trade, a normal dialogue or transparent information? ...Judging from the procedures, I believe (politicians of) the United States are more willing to get votes," Zhang said.

In a statement Saturday, China's Ministry of Commerce (MOC) expressed "regret" over the U.S. probe on Chinese clean energy products and said China would defend its interests in the World Trade Organization (WTO) rules.

"The union's complaint is groundless and irresponsible" as both parties should act in line with the WTO rules, said an official with MOC's Bureau of Fair Trade for Imports and Exports in its statement.

The statement said the United States was subsidizing up to 2,300 energy-related programs, including clean-energy projects.



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