Japan Joins U.S. In WTO Action Against China

Wants to encourage China to 'carry out the needed efforts.'

Japan said Feb. 16 it will join in a U.S. complaint against China at the World Trade Organization over Beijing's industrial subsidies. "We are planning to participate in the complaint as a third-party country," trade minister Akira Amari said. He said Japan decided to join the complaint after a request from Washington.

"We have been providing China with aid and know-how since it joined the WTO so that they can make necessary changes," Amari said. "This action by Japan to join the complaint as a third party is done in a spirit to encourage China to carry out the needed efforts."

The U.S. took China to the WTO on February 2, getting tough after years of quiet diplomacy. The global body will set up a settlement panel if the two nations fail to iron out the dispute within 60 days. The U.S. alleges that Beijing's state subsidies for steel, paper, information technology and other industries make Chinese goods artificially cheap and prevent U.S. companies from competing fairly.

Amari acknowledged that Japanese firms that have Chinese partners have benefited greatly from the protective measures. "But we cannot tolerate it if it breaks the rules," Amari said. China is Japan's largest trade partner, with Japanese companies depending on their giant neighbor as an industrial base and increasingly as a market for consumer goods.

Japan and China have recently been repairing relations, with Chinese Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing currently on a visit to Tokyo to pave the way for a rare trip in April by Premier Wen Jiabao.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2007

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