- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 26, 2003

SHANGHAI (AP) — China angrily rejected U.S. antidumping measures regarding Chinese television imports, as an increasingly rancorous trade dispute threatened yesterday to mar a visit by China’s prime minister next month to Washington.

The U.S. measures announced Monday come amid clashes over textiles, steel and soybeans. Many in China believe that furniture may be the next export drawn into the dispute.

With Prime Minister Wen Jiabao expected in Washington in less than two weeks to meet with President Bush, the dispute threatens to complicate already complex U.S.-Chinese relations.

The antidumping decision “breaches the basic principles of the World Trade Organization and seriously discriminates against Chinese firms,” the Chinese Ministry of Commerce said in a statement.

China’s growth as an export power at a time when many American manufacturing industries are in decline is testing U.S.-Chinese economic ties as never before.

China’s trade surplus with the United States reached a record $103 billion last year and is forecast to exceed $120 billion this year. U.S. officials have demanded that China move faster in meeting market-opening commitments, saying that failure to act could jeopardize Chinese access to American markets.

China is the world’s biggest television maker, with exports last year totaling $2 billion.

The U.S. Department of Commerce said Monday it would impose tariffs ranging from 27.94 percent to 78.45 percent on Chinese-made television sets that it ruled were being sold below fair market price in the United States.

The duties will affect more than $450 million in television imports. About 3 million Chinese-made televisions were sold in the United States last year.

The announcement follows the U.S. imposition of import quotas on Chinese textiles. China has protested that move and said it might “lodge lawsuits” through the WTO.

Last week, Beijing threatened to raise import duties on some U.S. products after a WTO ruling that Washington’s steel tariffs are illegal.

The ruling Monday on televisions is the seventh time this year that the United States has accused China of dumping, the official Xinhua news agency said.”This has greatly disturbed the normal trade order between China and the United States,” the agency quoted a Commerce Ministry spokesman as saying.

Duties were imposed on televisions exported by China’s top three manufacturers and one smaller one. The Commerce Department said it would make a final decision by April 12.

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