China says U.S. wind tower probe to hurt cooperation

BEIJING Sat Jan 21, 2012 3:48am EST

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BEIJING (Reuters) - China's Ministry of Commerce said a U.S. investigation into wind towers from China could hurt bilateral clean energy cooperation, an area the White House has been eager to develop.

The ministry hit out at a U.S. Commerce Department announcement on Thursday that it would investigate whether wind tower producers from China and Vietnam had harmed American producers by undercutting prices. Wind towers are the pylons that hold up the blades that generate wind energy.

"This investigation will not only be harmful to the development of Sino-U.S. new energy cooperation, it will harm the interests of the U.S. industry, and is not in line with global efforts on climate change and energy security," read a statement from the ministry's fair trade department on its website on Saturday.

"China hopes the U.S. side can respect relevant laws and facts, and abide by commitments made at the G20 summit in Cannes to avoid introducing new trade protectionist measures."

The White House has sought to promote clean energy as a growth area for American business as well as a potential area for cooperation with China, which faces worsening pollution as it tries to install enough power to serve its growing economy.

However, Chinese manufacturers of wind turbines and towers, as well as solar panels, have quickly ramped up to such scale that they can drive down profit margins in both the Chinese and international markets.

Massive overcapacity in the Chinese steel sector has driven down prices of steel, the main component in making a wind tower.

(Reporting By Lucy Hornby)

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