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Protectionism no painkiller for Europe(2)

2013-05-16 15:08 Xinhua     Web Editor: Gu Liping comment

History has shown that a crisis is a breeding ground for protectionism, but a protectionist approach is certainly no painkiller for economic woes.

The sovereign debt crisis, which has dragged on for nearly four years with no end in sight, is a wake-up call to the EU that some of its member states are losing their competitive edge in an increasingly globalized world.

Building trade barriers is a cheap way to protect European businesses and soothe domestic anger in a crisis, but the approach runs counter to a solution to the crisis, which calls for painful and sometime politically risky reforms to improve the competitiveness of EU economies.

A more vibrant Europe can only be built on a free market with an open environment for competition, not expulsion of outside rivals. By sticking to its pledge to keep markets open, the EU is in fact helping itself.

The latest case is apparently aimed at Huawei and ZTE, China's two leading telecommunication system and equipment providers, which serve customers across the world and cooperate with many European partners.

By launching an investigation on its own initiative into Chinese products for the first time, the European Commission is signaling it stands behind the rising protectionist force in Europe, and the aggressive approach risks a tit-for-tat trade war, which is in neither side's interests.

The European Commission said its decision would not be activated for the time being to allow for negotiations toward "an amicable solution" with China, but with a threat of trade punishment, it can hardly be called amicable.

As two economic powers in the world and leading trade partners, China and the EU have every reason to maintain a stable environment for bilateral trade and work jointly to unlock the huge potential for further cooperation.

Protectionism can not save an ailing Europe and it is unwise to win a little only to lose a lot.

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