China warned the European Union against escalating trade disputes Thursday, urging Brussels to drop plans to probe Chinese telecom products and impose hefty taxes on its solar panels.
The two sides are embroiled in a series of tit-for-tat disputes on items ranging from agricultural products to steel tubes, highlighting growing trade tensions amid financial uncertainties around the world.
China is the world’s second-largest economy and the EU is its biggest trading partner, with total two-way trade reaching $546 billion last year according to Chinese Customs figures, making it a key global business relationship.
In the latest development, the European Commission said on Wednesday it would open an anti-dumping and anti-subsidy investigation into mobile telecommunications network equipment and components from China if bilateral negotiations fail.
The decision followed reports that Brussels was planning to impose anti-dumping taxes of up to 68% on China-made solar panel products — a row that has been brewing since last year. Beijing’s commerce ministry spokesman Shen Danyang said European mobile telecom equipment firms enjoy a “much bigger” market share in China than Chinese companies have in the EU, and any moves by Brussels will harm them both.