Brussels warns of Chinese influence

Brussels warns of Chinese influence

BRUSSELS - Agence France-Presse
Brussels warns of Chinese influence

The European Commission plans to apply duties on Chinese solar panels. AFP photo

The European Commission warned on May 27 against undue Chinese influence as Germany led growing opposition among EU member states to a planned punitive levy on imports of solar panels from China.

Brussels said visiting Chinese Vice Minister of Commerce Zhong Shan had asked to see EU Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht, just days before the expected June 5 announcement of the solar anti-dumping tariff.

De Gucht spokesman John Clancy stressed that at what were strictly informal talks, the commissioner “expressed clearly that he was ready to negotiate a solution on the solar panels case.” But De Gucht also made it “very clear ... that he was aware of the pressure being exerted by China on a number of EU member states,” Clancy said.

The statement did not name any countries but the remarks followed Germany’s announcement earlier on May 27 to visiting Chinese Premier Li Keqiang that it opposed the solar panel levy, provisionally set at a very damaging 47 percent.

“There is, from our point of view, no longer a need for penalties,” German Economy Minister Philipp Roesler said.

“We are against protectionist measures, for open markets and fair competition,” Roesler said ahead of a lunch with Li.

Li welcomed the move, saying it was because Berlin “wanted to hear” China’s stance. “This position, that is what binds China with Germany and earns my appreciation,” he added.

The exchanges followed a pledge by Chancellor Angela Merkel on May 26 that Germany would do everything it could to ensure a negotiated solution to a series of disputes amid fears they could lead to a trade war.