BEIJING (Reuters) - An anti-dumping complaint filed by U.S. solar firms against their Chinese counterparts is driven by envy at China's rapid growth in the field and goes against global efforts to fight climate change, a major state-run newspaper said on Sunday.
Seven U.S. solar manufacturers this month asked the Obama administration to impose duties of more than 100 percent on China solar imports, which they said were unfairly undercutting U.S. prices and destroying American jobs.
In a front-page commentary, The China Energy News, published by Communist Party mouthpiece the People's Daily, said this was a foolish, misguided attempt at trade protectionism driven by jealousy.
"In the space of just five years, the rapid development of the Chinese companies has attracted envious eyes overseas," wrote Wang Yuehai, secretary general of the All China Federation of Industry and Commerce's new energy commission.
President Barack Obama had failed to live up to his promises to boost growth by supporting the renewable energy sector, leaving China to lead the way, he said.
"The U.S. solar industry is using the awkwardness of the Obama government to try and force it into trade protectionism and attack the rapid development of China's solar industry," Wang wrote.
The complaint also runs counter to the consensus reached by the two countries to develop clean energy, an important sector to support as the world tries to stimulate growth at a time of global financial crisis, he added.
The controversy comes at a sensitive time in U.S.-China trade relations, which are plagued by U.S. concerns over market access in China, Beijing's treatment of intellectual property rights, and stern debate over the value of China's currency.
China's Commerce Ministry has already warned the United States not to take protectionist measures over the solar energy issue that could harm the global economy.
The U.S. companies' complaint -- filed with the International Trade Commission and the U.S. Department of Commerce against the world's no. 2 economy -- has drawn scepticism from within the industry, as many fear a trade war could disrupt growth.
Many executives from the United States and Europe have complained privately for years about China's impact on solar markets, but most have also said the business had become so globalised that penalising one country would not help companies that are struggling to survive.
(Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Paul Tait)