China starts war on French wine

Marion Dakers
FRENCH politicians have been left with a sour taste on the palate after China threatened to crack down on European wine imports.

Francois Hollande, the French President, yesterday called for a meeting of the EU member states to discuss China’s investigation into the wine trade, which comes just a day after Europe imposed new levies on Chinese solar panels.

France’s trade ministry slammed the probe as “inappropriate and reprehensible”, while the EU insisted that there is no subsidy of European wine exports to China and that it plans to defend its wine makers.

France would bear the brunt of any crackdown on selling wine to Chinese oenophiles. The country produced more than half of the 257.3m litres sent from Europe to China last year, as part of a relationship that officials say is worth more than £650m a year.

Europe’s duties on imports of Chinese solar panels come into effect today and will rise to as much as 67.9 per cent by August, though the rates were slashed after some nations including Germany and the UK objected.

“What China has tried to do is divide and rule. I suspect what China has done is find a way to escalate the situation without offending its new best friend, Germany,” Shaun Breslin, associate fellow at Chatham House and professor of politics and international studies at Warwick University, told City A.M.
“This has been brewing for some time. Green energy is a strategic area that the Chinese have been targeting; they have been pumping huge amounts of state money into it.”