The EU warned China yesterday that it must redouble market reform efforts and its commitment to economic openness or face a protectionist backlash.
"We will only be able to maintain the case for openness in Europe if China shares reciprocal openness and readiness to play by the rules of trade," EU External Affairs Commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner and Trade Commissioner Peter Mandelson wrote in the International Herald Tribune.
"If not, we could see in Europe the growing defensiveness and protectionism that is becoming evident in some quarters in the US," they wrote.
The EU's executive arm, the European Commission, is today to set out its new political and trade policy for China, which is to call on Beijing to fully implement its commitments to the WTO if it wants to enjoy balanced trade relations with its No. 1 commercial partner.
Ferrero-Waldner and Mandelson argued that Europe should continue to offer open and fair access to Chinese exports and adjust to the competitive challenge.
But they called on China to "reinforce these efforts by strengthening its commitment to economic openness and market reform. It should improve legal protection for foreign companies and reject anticompetitive trading practices and policies," they wrote.
The commissioners acknowledged that Europe can't call for free trade without practicing it.
"When we use antidumping measures, they must only be directed against unfair trade, not used to deflect fair competition," they wrote.
They said the commission's new China initiative would signal the responsibilities of both China and Europe, and its first goals would be striking a new comprehensive partnership and cooperation agreement, and the updating of trade and investment agreements.
The 25-member EU is China's leading commercial partner, accounting for 19 percent of Chinese foreign trade. China today is the primary source of imports on the EU market.