The U.S. government has ruled that Chinese manufacturers dumped television sets in the American market, an industry group said, and the Chinese government protested the decision as "unjust."
The announcement came as U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney was in Beijing, though U.S.-Chinese trade tensions were overshadowed by talk of Taiwan, Iraq, and North Korea's nuclear program.
The U.S. accuses Chinese companies of dumping -- or selling below fair market prices -- textiles, steel, furniture, and soybeans, adding to a Chinese trade surplus with the U.S. that last year hit a record U.S. $124 billion.
The latest U.S. ruling was announced by the China Chamber of Commerce for Import and Export of Machinery and Electronic Products on its web site. The group said it was consulting with Chinese manufacturers about a possible appeal.
China's Commerce Ministry responded quickly, rejecting the allegation.
"For Chinese companies to be determined to be dumping to such a relatively high degree amounts to unjust treatment," the Ministry said in a statement. It called the U.S. ruling an "unrealistic assessment."
The U.S. International Trade Commission was scheduled to hold a public hearing on the case April 15 in Washington.
If the commission concludes that U.S. television makers were hurt, it could impose penalties on Chinese manufacturers. The issue also could go to arbitration.
China's government hopes the U.S. panel will fully consider data submitted by Chinese companies and make a "fair and realistic final ruling," the Commerce Ministry said.
China is said to be the world's biggest television maker, with exports last year totaling $2.6 billion, according to government figures.
The U.S. government has announced the creation of a new office to handle trade with China, focusing on Chinese policies and piracy of American copyrights and patents by Chinese firms.
U.S. Vice President Cheney met on March 14 with Premier Wen Jiabao, the top Chinese economic official, to discuss trade.
Mr. Wen urged Washington to ease restrictions on high-tech products to China and raised with Beijing's desire to be recognized as a "full market economy," the state-run Xinhua News Agency said.
Under international trade rules, a country with market economy status can use its own pricing data in contesting dumping accusations. Otherwise, prices from a third country are used.
China contends that such calculations put it at a disadvantage in dumping cases.
The U.S. Commerce Department in November imposed preliminary antidumping tariffs on Chinese television imports ranging from 27.94 percent to 78.45 percent.
The Chinese industry group said the latest ruling called for duties of 4.35 percent to 78.45 percent. It wasn't clear why the suggested penalties were lower.
The proposed duties affected more than $450 million in television imports. Some 3 million Chinese-made televisions were sold in the U.S. last year.
Among the companies affected are China's three biggest TV makers -- Shenzhen Konka Group Co., Sichuan Changhong Electric Co., and TCL International Holdings. (AP)
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