PEKING (dpa-AFX) - China has threatened to sue the EU at the World Trade Organization (WTO) over the EU's proposed punitive tariffs on Chinese electric cars. "China reserves the right to file a complaint with the World Trade Organization and will take all necessary measures to firmly defend the legitimate rights and interests of Chinese enterprises," He Yadong, a spokesman for the Chinese Ministry of Commerce, said on Thursday.

The punitive tariffs would not only "disrupt mutually beneficial cooperation" in the field of new energy vehicles, but also distort the global automotive industry and supply chain. The European approach is suspected of violating WTO rules and is an "obvious act of trade protectionism."

On Wednesday, the EU Commission threatened provisional punitive tariffs on e-cars from China. Whether the duties of up to 38.1 percent actually have to be paid depends on whether another solution can be found with China. They would then be withheld retroactively from the beginning of July in certain cases, should the EU agree to levy higher duties in the long term. The Chinese government has been called upon to signal its willingness to talk./jpt/DP/ngu