Aug. 15 (UPI) -- The Chinese government said it made the necessary move to file a complaint with the World Trade Organization over solar tariffs imposed by the United States.
A spokesperson for the Chinese Ministry of Commerce said Beijing viewed U.S. trade moves as an abuse of safeguards that "severely damaged" Chinese trade interests.
U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer announced President Donald Trump's decision in January to impose "safeguard tariffs" on imported solar cells and modules because of complaints those imports caused serious harm to domestic manufacturers.
The decision was triggered by the U.S. International Trade Commission delivering three separate sets of recommendations to Trump designed to curb imports of solar components, ranging from quotas to a tariff on imports of 35 percent.
The commission took up the case amid complaints that cheap parts from Asia made the U.S. sector less competitive. Suniva, based in the United States, and SolarWorld, whose parent is in Germany, said imposing tariffs would lead to more jobs in the solar industry in the United States.
Save solar cells with a capacity of more than 2.5 gigawatts, U.S. tariffs start at 30 percent and drop to 15 percent in four years.
"China's choice to resort to the WTO dispute settlement mechanism is a necessary move to safeguard its legitimate rights and interests and multilateral trade rules," the ministry spokesperson was quoted as saying by China's official Xinhua News Agency.
The International Renewable Energy Agency estimates that 60 percent of all renewable energy jobs are in the Asian economies. For the solar panel industry, China has about 60 percent of the payrolls, representing about 2.2 million employees. China also accounts for 44 percent of the payrolls in the wind energy industry.
The Solar Energy Industries Association, a trade group representing the interests of the solar power industry in the United States, said the solar manufacturing sector employed 38,000 people at the end of 2016 and only 2,000 of them made something other than solar panels. With these new duties, tens of thousands of jobs could be lost, not created.