The US decision to file cases with the World Trade Organization against China over intellectual property rights (IPR) and access to the Chinese publication market clearly shows that protectionism is rising in the world's No 1 economy.
If US policymakers do not do their best to resist such pressures, they will not only fail to fix domestic economic problems but also risk damaging economic cooperation and trade relations with China.
In fact, actions against China could trigger an outbreak of massive protectionism that could seriously undermine global economic growth.
Under congressional pressure over its ballooning trade deficit, the US government announced on Monday that it would take China before the WTO over suspected trade barriers and piracy of books, music, videos and other goods.
Such action ignores the fact that the Chinese government has been making unremitting efforts to strengthen IPR protection. Its achievements and ongoing efforts are obvious.
Part of the nation's development, the Chinese government has attached unprecedented importance to IPR issues in recent years. That is why the Ministry of Commerce expressed "great regret and strong dissatisfaction" at the US decision.
The US move has run against the consensus between the countries' leaders on developing bilateral trade relations and properly handling trade problems.
Worse, the move came as the latest in a string of protectionist actions the United States has taken against China. Last month, the US Department of Commerce announced a preliminary decision to impose countervailing duties on imports of glossy paper from China.
While such protectionist moves may appeal to some US industries or interest groups for a while, they do nothing to promote the restructuring the US economy needs to reduce its budget and trade deficits.
China is keenly aware of the necessity of reducing its reliance on investment and exports. And it is working hard to change its growth pattern with concrete efforts.
The United States should also boost domestic efforts to reduce its budget and trade imbalances. Protectionism will not be the solution but part of unsolved problem.
(China Daily April 11, 2007)