Wen calls on Belgium to resist protectionism

Updated: 2012-09-22 01:52

By Li Xiaokun in Brussels (China Daily)

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China and Belgium should remain committed to keeping their markets open and jointly resist all forms of protectionism, Premier Wen Jiabao said on Thursday during his official visit to Belgium.

The remarks came amid Beijing's efforts to reverse the European Union's decision on Sept 6 to launch an anti-dumping investigation over Chinese solar panels.

The case involves more than $20 billion in Chinese exports, the biggest so far, and constitutes a test of the EU's commitment to free trade.

During his talks with Belgian Prime Minister Elio Di Rupo, Wen said that in view of the current unfavorable global economic conditions, China and Belgium should "remain committed to keeping their markets open and jointly resist all forms of protectionism".

Chinese Ambassador to Belgium Liao Liqiang said ahead of the visit that as "the heart and gateway of Europe", Belgium has enjoyed its "special status and influence" within the EU and on the global stage, and Beijing has long recognized that.

Beijing has previously said that the EU has not followed its own advice, which it gave at a G20 summit in Mexico, when it said that all countries should not step up new trade protection measures before 2014 and should withdraw such measures if already implemented.

The delegation, led by the Chinese premier, was also in Brussels to attend the 15th China-EU summit, the final one during Wen's two-term premiership.

Minister of Commerce Chen Deming immediately held talks with EU Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht after the delegation arrived in Brussels on Wednesday evening.

Wen said at the summit on Thursday that he expected that the anti-dumping dispute can be handled in a proper way through talks.

Experts have warned that the dispute will also hurt the EU, especially once it escalates into a trade war amid the financial crisis.

China's photovoltaic industry imports raw materials and technology worth more than 20 billion euros ($26.14 billion) from Europe every year.

Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi told reporters on the flight back to Beijing that Wen's visit to Belgium aims to consolidate ties with the nation, a key partner for China in the EU, and to enhance China's ties with the EU at large.

This was Wen's third visit to Belgium during his premiership.

Belgium took the lead among industrialized European countries in forging diplomatic ties with China in 1971.

In 2011, trade volume rose to $29.1 billion, a surge of 31.5 percent compared with 2010.

The Belgian prime minister previously said that the sustainability of the European model in the coming five to 10 years largely depends on the EU's cooperation with the world, especially China.

Contact the writer at lixiaokun@chinadaily.com.cn