China squared off against the United States, the European Union and Japan in “a bitter exchange” during a World Trade Organization (WTO) review of its policies, diplomats said.

They said tensions flared when China provided only limited answers to developed powers’ questions about its export quotas on raw materials, tariffs on photography products, and ownership limits in industries including autos, steel, chemicals, energy, cosmetics, pharmaceuticals and wood products.

As part of its deal to join the WTO in 2001, China agreed to be subjected to a “transitional review” of its trade policies for eight years, followed by a final assessment in 2011 or earlier. Other new WTO members do not undergo similar reviews.

In the latest annual review, as in previous years, diplomats said China argued that the WTO’s Market Access Committee was an inappropriate venue for the questions raised and said many of the issues were unrelated to its WTO commitments.

It refused to provide full answers in writing but provided some information in remarks to the committee meeting.

The acrimony added more fuel to escalating disputes between Beijing and its Western trading partners over its economic policies.

The United States has launched WTO litigation over China’s policies on car parts, tax subsidies, copyright and piracy, and the sale of films, music and books. China is also pursuing a WTO case against the United States over US anti-dumping measures affecting Chinese paper imports. (Reuters)