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China warns EU against damaging its image through medical device probe

Beijing warned on Wednesday that the European Union was causing “damage” to its image in response to the bloc launching an investigation into Chinese public procurement of medical devices.

“The European Union has frequently made use of its trade toolkit and trade relief measures, but they only give off protectionist signals, target Chinese enterprises, and damage the EU’s image,” foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said, referring to the EU’s new economic security safeguards.

“The EU always flaunts itself as the world’s most open market, but all the outside world sees is it gradually moving towards protectionism,” Wang said.

“We urge the European side to stick to its promise of market openness and fair competition, respect WTO rules, and stop using any excuse to groundlessly suppress and restrict Chinese businesses,” he added.

The EU’s official journal said Wednesday that the bloc was launching the probe, in a move that risks raising further tensions with Beijing.

Brussels fears China is favouring local suppliers and, in the journal, the EU provided the different ways this could be happening including the “Buy China” policy.

The EU also has concerns that China may have restrictions on imports as well as imposing conditions “leading to abnormally low bids that cannot be sustained by profit-oriented companies”, the notice said.

It is the first probe under the EU’s International Procurement Instrument which seeks to promote reciprocity in access to international public procurement markets.

If the investigation finds that there is unfair behaviour, the EU can limit Chinese companies’ access to the public procurement market in the 27-country bloc. AFP

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