China has contested a United States decision to launch anti-dumping and countervailing duty investigations on Chinese-made solar power panels. Ministry of Commerce spokesman Shen Danyang yesterday criticised the US for initiating trade frictions and that for the first time the probes centred on a Chinese clean-energy export. The US started a probe on Tuesday on whether Chinese-made crystalline silicon photovoltaic cells and modules were sold at 'less than fair value' and whether they were subsidised by Beijing. The probe is in response to a petition filed by a solar panel producer in the US. Shen said the US had shifted the blame of the slow development of its domestic solar power industry to China and had deployed restrictive measures on Chinese exports, which prompted 'strong disagreement' among Chinese firms. 'The Chinese government is seriously concerned about the case,' Shen said. 'The restrictive measures not only hurt Sino-US co-operation, but the national interest of the US.' Solar power panels have emerged as the latest subject of trade disputes between both countries, following a string of disputes over products such as tyres, broiled chicken, raw materials, mineral resources, paper and steel plates. Some economists said the trade dispute arose mostly from China's large trade surplus and the yuan's appreciation against the US dollar, which has been slower than US expectations. The yuan closed at 6.3459 to the dollar yesterday, down from 6.3402 on Wednesday. It has gained 3.84 per cent so far this year, or 7.57 per cent since the yuan was unpegged from the dollar in June last year. Christine Lagarde, head of the International Monetary Fund, said yesterday that Beijing 'was willing to let the yuan appreciate' after meeting with Chinese state leaders, such as the central bank governor.