China's Ministry of Commerce on Thursday said that the European Union's new stance of making exceptions for what it calls "significant market distortions" lacks basis in World Trade Organization (WTO) rules, with the ministry urging the EU to strictly abide by WTO rules.
The ministry's spokesman Gao Feng made the remarks at a regular press briefing in Beijing on Thursday, noting that the WTO's rules have no concept of "significant market distortions" or terms for social and environmental dumping.
The European Union agreed new rules last Tuesday for determining when and how import tariffs should be imposed, after China filed a complaint to the WTO over the EU's trade defense practices in December 2016.
The EU now treats all WTO members the same by abolishing the "non-market-economy" label the EU assigns to China and 14 other countries when probing alleged below-cost imports. Trade will only be considered as "dumping" if export prices are below domestic prices.
But the EU said it will make exceptions for cases of "significant market distortions" such as excessive state intervention, an exception expected to cover many Chinese firms.
The EU's stance will damage the WTO's anti-dumping legal systems and increase uncertainty in applying WTO rules, said Gao Feng.
"We will pay close attention to the European Union's moves, and, if necessary, take appropriate measures to resolutely safeguard our legitimate rights and interests," said the spokesman.