Chinese premier criticizes EU move on trade measures

SHANGHAI Fri May 24, 2013 10:57pm EDT

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang speaks during a joint news conference with Pakistan's President Asif Ali Zardari (not in picture) at President House in Islamabad May 22, 2013. REUTERS/Mian Khursheed

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang speaks during a joint news conference with Pakistan's President Asif Ali Zardari (not in picture) at President House in Islamabad May 22, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Mian Khursheed

SHANGHAI (Reuters) - Chinese Premier Li Keqiang criticized the European Union over its plans to investigate alleged anti-competitive behavior by Chinese mobile telecom equipment makers and to impose punitive import duties on solar panels from China, state media reported.

The official Xinhua news agency reported late on Friday that Li had told business leaders in Switzerland such measures would "harm others without benefiting oneself".

Li is the most senior Chinese official to comment on the troublesome issue so far.

The European Union is considering whether to impose punitive import duties on solar panels from China after the United States levied its own duties last year - a move fiercely opposed by Beijing.

European Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht said this month he and fellow commissioners had agreed in principle to open an anti-dumping and anti-subsidy case against China, but would first seek to negotiate a solution with Chinese authorities.

China has threatened to retaliate if the EU pushes ahead with the investigation.

China hopes the EU will think about overall economic and trade relations between them and uphold the principles of free trade when handling the two cases, Xinhua quoted Li as saying.

The EU is China's most important trading partner, while for the EU China is second only to the United States. Chinese export of goods to the 27-member bloc totalled 290 billion euros ($374.98 billion) last year, with 144 billion euros going the other way.

(Reporting by Kazunori Takada; Editing by Paul Tait)

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