China's Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM) said on Thursday that France's new cash incentives for electric vehicle (EV) purchases that exclude models manufactured in China amount to discrimination against EVs made outside of the EU,888 slot urging Paris to follow WTO rules and provide a fair market environment for Chinese and other firms.
Also on Thursday, the Chinese Foreign Ministry criticized reported plans by the US government to hike tariffs on Chinese EVs, saying that relevant US measures, though under the guise of national security, are "naked protectionism."
The French government last week published a list of car models that are eligible for EV cash incentives, which favor EVs made in France and Europe over those made in China, after it included new criteria covering the amount of carbon emissions during the manufacturing process, according to Reuters.
Asked to comment on the French move on Thursday, Shu Jueting, a MOFCOM spokesperson, said that China is concerned about the move and believes that the relevant measures constitute discrimination against EVs produced outside the EU, which harm the interests of all parties, including French consumers.
"It is hoped that the French side will abide by WTO rules, proceed from the overall situation of maintaining the stability of global production and supply chains and the healthy and stable development of green and low-carbon industries, and provide a fair, non-discriminatory and predictable market environment for enterprises from all over the world, including those from China," Shu told a press briefing in Beijing.
The French government first published new eligibility rules for its EV cash incentives in September. Though it did not explicitly say that the move was targeted at Chinese-made EVs, Reuters reported that the new rules were designed "to exclude EVs made in China." The news agency cited an unnamed French finance ministry source as saying that in the absence of cheap European-made EVs, a third of all incentives the French government had been handing out had gone to consumers buying Chinese EVs.
The French move comes at a sensitive time, after the EU launched a so-called anti-subsidy investigation into Chinese EVs in October, which have prompted a harsh response from Chinese officials.
When commenting on the EU's investigation on December 7, the MOFCOM spokesperson said that the European Commission's launch of an investigation lacks sufficient evidence and is an act of trade protectionism. It will seriously disrupt and distort the global automotive industry chain and supply chain, including the EU, and have a negative impact on China-EU economic relations, the spokesperson said.
As China's EV sector gains global prominence, many Western governments have been reportedly contemplating various measures to crack down on Chinese EVs. The US government is also reportedly considering increasing tariffs on Chinese EVs and other goods.
Commenting on media reports, Wang Wenbin, a spokesperson for the Chinese Foreign Ministry, told a press briefing on Thursday that in the name of security, the relevant US measures pursue an "America First" agenda, violate the principles of market economy and fair competition, and threaten the security of global industrial and supply chains.
"They are engaged in naked protectionism," Wang said, noting that the relevant measures are suspected of violating WTO rules and they have drawn the strong opposition from many countries, including the US' European allies. "The so-called new regulations recently issued by the US are an upgraded version of "American protectionism," and China firmly opposes the practice."
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