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Market economy status not a bilateral negotiation

Updated: 2016-02-18 07:55
By Yang Yanyi (China Daily)

All the countries concerned should step up dialogue and exchanges to seek to resolve their concerns through closer cooperation rather than resorting to trade defense measures, which are not sound remedies.

China stands ready to engage in dialogue and consultation with the EU through platforms including the China-EU Steel Dialogue to resolve their differences and properly manage trade friction.

In this connection, I wish to mention a conversation I had some weeks ago with a European business leader who works with the steel industry.

Contrary to my expectation, he didn't pick a fight with me. Rather, he was very friendly, frank and open-minded. Of the many interesting points he shared with me, three are especially impressive.

One, China represents more of an opportunity than a challenge. For many years Western policymakers and scholars, as well as media pundits and commentators, including those in the EU, have engaged in heated debates on whether the rise of China represents a threat or an opportunity for the current international order. In recent times, talk of it being a threat has regained momentum.

For the EU, China is both a challenge and an opportunity. But in the final analysis, China represents more of an opportunity than a challenge. Putting it in perspective, China's moving from a major exporter of low-value added manufactured goods toward higher-end production and domestic consumption augurs well for the EU.

And it is very important the EU keep in mind there is only one China in the world, it should not miss the opportunities that a transforming China offers.

Two, the EU and China can and should work with each other and not against each other.

The EU and China are neither strategic competitors nor rivals. With long-standing civilizations behind them, both Europe and China set great store by economic development as well as social equity and justice. In areas where the EU and China diverge, both have the wisdom and capability to accommodate and work things out in a mutually beneficial manner. The successful settlement of the solar panel dispute was a case in point.

Three, it is imperative that the EU hold on to its values of openness and inclusiveness. While the concerns and worries of the steel sector can be well appreciated, it is necessary to remind ourselves that to keep the EU's social model and give concrete hope to EU citizens, especially the younger generation, EU countries must reform and change. The same is true for the steel industry. Even if China was not competing in the steel market, there are other competitors with a competitive edge.

Although voices saying this are rarely heard in the media, they are worth listening to and heeding when they are.

Before I conclude, I wish to reiterate one more point. Whether or not it recognizes China's market economy status, the EU and all other members of the WTO are under the obligation to apply the rules of the WTO, namely Section 15 of the Protocol on the Accession of China to the WTO, which sets out Members should stop using the "analogue country method" in anti-dumping investigations against China as of December 11, 2016.

It should be clarified, this is not a bilateral negotiation between China and the EU. This is not about whether or not China is up to the market economy criteria of the EU. This is simply irrelevant. The real issue is about the EU's standing by its values of and commitment to fair trade, multilateralism, and rules-based international order.

We look forward to the EU's clear-cut compliance with its WTO obligations and apply equal terms to China in its calculations of anti-dumping duties.

Ambassador Yang Yanyi is Head of the Chinese Mission to the EU.

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