EU opens investigation into Chinese e-bike imports

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – The European Commission on Friday launched an investigation into the import of electronic bikes (e-bikes) from China after European producers complained that they are being sold at excessively low prices with the help of unfair subsidies.

The European Bicycle Manufacturers Association (EBMA) lodged its complaint in September, saying that Chinese companies were flooding the EU market at prices sometimes below the cost of production.

The Commission, which oversees trade policy among the EU’s 28 member states, said in a filing in the EU’s official journal there was sufficient evidence to justify the start of an anti-dumping investigation. It would be concluded within 15 months.

The EBMA is also preparing a related complaint alleging illegal subsidies and asking for registration of Chinese e-bike imports, which could allow eventual duties to be backdated.

Such an investigation would be the latest in a string of probes into Chinese exports ranging from solar panels to steel and could raise trade tensions with Beijing, particularly with a subsidy inquiry into the support provided by the Chinese state.

China’s commerce ministry said it would defend its companies’ interests and urged the EU to respect World Trade Organization rules, telling the EU not to let its investigation lead to protectionism.

Bicycles have already been a flashpoint. The EU accused China last December for scuttling a global environmental trade deal by insisting that bicycles be included as a tariff-free green product. Chinese conventional bicycles have been subject to EU anti-dumping duties since 1993.

The EBMA said more than 430,000 Chinese e-bikes were sold in the EU in 2016, a 40 percent increase on the previous year, and forecasts the figure will rise to around 800,000 in 2017.

The group said European companies had pioneered the pedal-assist technology that e-bikes use and had invested about 1 billion euros ($ 1.2 billion) last year, but was risking losing its industry to China.

Reporting by Philip Blenkinsop; editing by Mark Heinrich

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Tech

Chinese police arrest 15,000 for Internet crimes

A man types on a computer keyboard in Warsaw in this February 28, 2013 illustration file picture. REUTERS/Kacper Pempel/Files

Police in China said on Tuesday they had arrested about 15,000 people for crimes that “jeopardized Internet security”, as the government moves to tighten controls on the Internet.

Since taking over in 2013, President Xi Jinping has led an increasingly harsh crackdown on China’s Internet, which the Communist Party views with greater importance and acknowledges it needs to control, academics and researchers say.

Police have investigated 7,400 cases of cyber crime, the Ministry of Public Security said in a statement on its website. It did not make clear over what period the arrests were made, but referred to a case dating to last December.

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China launched a six-month program last month, code-named “Cleaning the Internet”.

“For the next step, the public security organs will continue to increase their investigation and crackdown on cyber crimes,” the ministry said.

The campaign would also focus on breaking major cases and destroying online criminal gangs, it added.

The sweep targeted websites providing “illegal and harmful information” besides advertisements for pornography, explosives and firearms and gambling. In total, the police said they investigated 66,000 websites.

China runs one of the world’s most sophisticated online censorship mechanisms, known as the Great Firewall. Censors keep a tight grip on what can be published, particularly material that could potentially undermine the ruling Communist Party.

In February, China’s internet watchdog said it would ban from March 1 internet accounts that impersonate people or organizations, and enforce the requirement for people to use their real names when registering online accounts.

(Reporting by Sui-Lee Wee; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)

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