BEIJING, May 18 (Xinhua) -- The Ministry of Commerce (MOC) said Friday that the U.S.'s preliminary ruling on China-made solar cells sends "negative signals of trade protectionism" to the world.
The comment came after the U.S. Commerce Department announced Thursday that Chinese manufacturers had dumped solar cells in the U.S. at margins ranging from 31.14 percent to 249.96 percent.
"The result is unjustified and underscores the U.S.'s tendency towards trade protectionism," said MOC spokesman Shen Danyang.
He said the U.S. has refused to listen to the defense and evidence presented by Chinese manufacturers when computing and assessing the dumping margins, despite the manufacturers' active cooperation.
Instead, the U.S. decided to use solar panel production costs in Thailand, a country with a poorly developed solar industry, as a proxy for costs in China, which Shen believes artificially lifted the dumping margins.
"The practice is unobjective and unjustified," he said, urging the U.S. Commerce Department to "right the wrongs" in upcoming probes and avoid unfair rulings.
The preliminary results will be reviewed by the Commerce Department in October and the International Trade Commission in November.
The announcement follows an earlier decision by the U.S. to impose anti-subsidy duties ranging from 2.9 percent to 4.73 percent on imported crystalline silicon photovoltaic (PV) cells from China.
China's major solar panel makers, which will be subject to additional anti-dumping duties of a higher-than-expected range if the ruling is upheld, have voiced their opposition, saying the move will do harm to manufacturers in both countries.
Suntech Power, the world's largest producer of solar panels, said in a statement that the ruling fails to reflect the current state of the global PV industry.
China produces the world's largest number of solar panels, and more than 90 percent of its solar panel products are exported.
It is also a large importer of polysilicon, a crucial raw material in the PV industry, with annual imports up from 17,000 tonnes in 2008 to 64,700 tonnes in 2011, of which 60 percent came from the U.S. and the Republic of Korea (ROK).
Shen said the latest duties set by the U.S. not only hurt the interests of Chinese manufacturers, but will also affect downstream consumers and component exporters in the U.S. Clashes over China-made products arose last year when a group of panel manufacturers in the U.S., led by SolarWorld Industries America Inc., filed a formal complaint to the Department of Commerce, saying China-made panels were being sold at extremely low prices on hefty government subsidies.
But Chinese makers said their commercial success has resulted from fair competition.
"Over the last decade, Chinese PV companies have managed to significantly cut costs through technological innovation, expansion, industrial concentration and supply-chain improvements, which in turn spurred the large-scale application of solar energy worldwide," said Shi Zhengrong, chairman and chief executive officer of Suntech.
Shi called for unified efforts by global panel makers to strengthen cooperation and remove trade barriers.