China is firmly against rising protectionism and will take "all necessary measures" to defend the legal interests of its exporting companies, a commerce official said Thursday.
"The government will launch diplomatic negotiations, push for dialogue and cooperation, and help domestic industry associations and businesses respond to lawsuits," said Sun Jiwen, a spokesperson of the Ministry of Commerce, during a press conference.
"We will also resort to dispute settlement mechanisms if necessary," Sun said, responding to increasing trade remedies against Chinese products amid a weak global economic recovery.
As the world's largest exporter, China has seen its businesses bear the brunt of rising protectionism. Chinese exporters suffered a record 119 trade remedy investigations, initiated by 27 countries or regions, last year, a 36.8 percent increase from 2015. The cases involved 14.34 billion U.S. dollars of goods, up 76 percent year on year.
Weighed on by trade remedies, China's full-year exports in 2016 dropped 2 percent in yuan-denominated terms, with trade surplus down 9.1 percent, customs data showed.
"China has become the main target of protectionism as certain countries frequently impose restrictions on Chinese products to protect their own industries," Sun said.
"China respects the right to use trade remedies but is deeply concerned about some countries' excess protection of domestic industries by harming Chinese businesses," Sun said. "The abuse of trade measures makes no contribution to addressing industrial difficulties. ... but will likely disrupt normal global and bilateral trade."
Sun noted that China firmly opposes protectionism of any form and is willing to weather out economic hardships with other countries through dialogue and cooperation.