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China calls for fair handling of escalating solar dispute with U.S.

A worker inspects solar panels at a solar farm in Dunhuang, 950km (590 miles) northwest of Lanzhou, Gansu Province September 16, 2013. REUTE
A worker inspects solar panels at a solar farm in Dunhuang, 950km (590 miles) northwest of Lanzhou, Gansu Province September 16, 2013. REUTE

BEIJING (Reuters) - China urged the United States on Monday to "objectively and fairly" handle an ongoing trade dispute between the two countries after Washington signaled last week it could extend import duties on Chinese solar panels to a wider range of products.

The U.S. International Trade Commission ruled on Friday that Chinese solar panels made with cells manufactured in Taiwan may harm the American solar industry, bringing it closer to adding to the duties it slapped on products from China in 2012.

The U.S. arm of German solar manufacturer SolarWorld AG had complained that Chinese manufacturers are sidestepping the duties by shifting production of the cells used to make their panels to Taiwan and continuing to flood the U.S. market with cheap products.

The U.S. investigations are aimed at "broadly restricting Chinese exports of silicon photovoltaic products", said the official Xinhua news agency, citing an unnamed official from the commerce ministry.

"China remains open for trade negotiations and hopes for sincere dialogue to properly resolve the issue to achieve a win-win result," the official added.

The value of Chinese solar product imports in the United States fell by almost a third from 2012 to 2013, while imports from Taiwan rose more than 40 percent, although from a much smaller base, according to ITC data.

China has retaliated by introducing anti-dumping and anti-subsidy duties on imports of U.S. polysilicon, the key raw material in solar cells.

The ITC is due to make a preliminary decision on whether Chinese solar products are unfairly subsidized on March 28 and a preliminary decision on dumping on June 11.

(Reporting by Dominique Patton; Editing by Mark Potter)

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