BEIJING — A senior Chinese official rejected a U.S. trade complaint about Beijing's clean energy policy and said Sunday that Washington might be improperly supporting its own industry.
The U.S. government said Friday it would investigate complaints by a labor union that Beijing unfairly subsidizes its producers of wind and solar equipment.
"Chinese subsidies to new energy companies are much smaller than those of the U.S. government," said Zhang Guobao, director of the Cabinet's National Energy Administration, at a news conference. "If the U.S. government can subsidize companies, then why can't we?"
The complaint by the United Steelworkers adds to strains between Washington and Beijing over trade in tires, steel, chicken, movies and other goods. It says Chinese producers can sell wind and solar equipment at lower prices abroad because they get subsidies that are prohibited by global trade rules.
Zhang countered that Washington might be improperly supporting its own industry. He cited what he said were rules on spending of U.S. government money for solar energy that require equipment to be domestically made. "If what I said is right, it is the United States that should be sued, not us," he said.
The unusually prompt, high-level Chinese response reflects Beijing's growing confidence in rejecting U.S. pressure over trade and other issues.
The communist government is aggressively promoting wind, solar and other renewable energy to curb surging demand for imported oil and gas. It is trying to build up Chinese equipment suppliers to capture the economic benefits of a fast-growing industry.