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China: Solar Firms Face More Penalties

It has been a tough spring for China’s solar power industry and the summer is not looking any better. In May, Chinese solar companies were implicated in a hacking scheme allegedly run by the People’s Army. Tuesday, the Commerce Department levied steep tariffs against them for taking government subsidies to undercut U.S. competitors. Come July 25, Chinese solar firms could face more trade penalties for dumping below-cost goods on the American market.

Rather than pay the tariffs, Chinese manufacturers seized the advantage of a loophole in the Commerce Department order. It only covered individual solar cells, not the panels that the cells go in to. By outsourcing solar cell fabrication to foreign suppliers, Chinese panel builders could still accept government subsidies and export finished panels to the U.S. without paying the tariff.

Subsidies may have been just part of the assistance Chinese panel makers were getting from their government. A hacking ring operated by the People’s Army broke into SolarWorld’s computers in 2012 and stole company secrets, according to a federal indictment announced May 13. Along with technical data, they allegedly accessed SolarWorld’s marketing, financial and legal strategies.

China said the Commerce Department’s decision ignored facts and violated world trade regulations. It also called the decision an attempt to protect U.S. companies that were unable to compete because of their own problems.

(guardianlv.com Edited by Topco)