China still has plenty more cards to play in an increasingly ugly trade dispute with the European Union, the official People’s Daily newspaper said on Thursday, accusing Europe of not realising that its global power was waning.
The EU will impose duties on imports of Chinese solar panels from this week, a move that infuriated Beijing despite European attempts to soften the blow with a reduced rate. China in response announced on Wednesday its own anti-dumping and anti-subsidy probe into imports of wine from the EU.
Both sides say they still want to resolve the row through talks.
However, the People’s Daily, the ruling Communist Party’s official mouthpiece, said in a commentary that Beijing could take yet more measures against the EU.
“We have set the table for talks, [yet] there are still plenty of cards we can play,” the newspaper wrote. “China does not want a trade war, but trade protectionism cannot but bring about a counter-attack.”
A declining Europe needs to understand it can no longer laud it over other countries, the paper added.
“Times change and power rises and falls. Still this has not changed the deep-rooted, haughty attitudes of certain Europeans,” it wrote.
EU Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht intentionally “stirred up trouble” in pushing through the duties on Chinese solar panels despite objections from many EU states, the daily said.
“This is not normal,” it added.
The article was published under the pen name “Zhong Sheng”, meaning “Voice of China”, a name used to give the newspaper’s views on foreign affairs.
The EU duties will deal a blow to Chinese solar companies such as Trina Solar, Suntech Power Holdings and Yingli Green Energy Holding, and can be expected to drive up the price of their panels in Europe.
China appears to have chosen to target EU wines in more of a symbolic move than if it had targeted industrial exports such as Airbus aircraft, made by Toulouse-based European aerospace group EADS.
EU wine exports to China excluding Hong Kong, which EU officials say are not covered by the announcement, reached 257.3 million litres last year for a value of nearly US$1 billion. More than half – 139.5 million litres – came from France.
Diageo and Pernod are among the suppliers.