Seven U.S. solar manufacturers on Wednesday asked the Obama administration to impose duties of more than 100 percent on China solar imports, which they said were unfairly undercutting U.S. prices and destroying American jobs.
The controversy comes at a sensitive time in U.S.-China trade relations, which are plagued by U.S. concerns over market access in China, Beijing's treatment of intellectual property rights, and raging debate over the value of China's currency.
"If the U.S. government files a case, adopts duties and sends an inappropriate protectionist signal, it would cast a shadow over world economic recovery," an unnamed official said in a statement posted on the Chinese Commerce Ministry's website (www.mofcom.gov.cn).
"The Chinese government hopes the United States will scrupulously abide by its promise to oppose trade protectionism, avoid adopting protectionist measures on Chinese solar cell products, jointly protect a free, open and fair international trade environment, and adopt more rational means of handling trade frictions."
The official also said the United States was living in a glass house, having adopted its own policies to promote its domestic industry.
The statement provoked a quick response from the Coalition for American Solar Manufacturing -- the group of seven that filed the complaints -- which called the ministry's statement "misleading and unfounded".
"The aggressive dumping as well as massive illegal subsidies from the Chinese government have cost the U.S. industry thousands of jobs ... and have forced more than seven companies to close or downsize in the past 18 months," the group said in a statement.