China says financial news controls obey WTO rules

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BEIJING, Nov 27 (Reuters) China on Tuesday defended regulations seeking to control foreign financial news agencies, telling the EU trade chief that they did not violate World Trade Organisation rules, state media reported.

China's Xinhua News Agency announced in September 2006 that foreign financial news agencies, including Reuters and Bloomberg LP, must sell their services to Chinese customers only through it and agents approved by it.

Xinhua, which operates under the censorship of the ruling Communist Party, also wants the right to censor content provided by these foreign companies.

The rules have not been enforced, but the European Union's Trade Commissioner Peter Mandelson and other foreign commerce officials have pressed China to scrap them, claiming they break promises Beijing made on joining the World Trade Organisation (WTO) in 2001.

Tian Congming, the president of Xinhua, told Mandelson in Beijing that claim was wrong.

''The regulation is in line with Chinese laws and regulations, and it is no breach of either WTO rules or China's WTO commitments,'' Tian told Mandelson, according to Xinhua news agency.

''The regulation will not be modified and there is no such need to do so,'' Xinhua paraphrased Tian as saying.

But the Xinhua chief also said his news agency was ''open'' and would negotiate on terms of equality and mutual respect, the report said.

Mandelson is in Beijing for a summit between Chinese and European leaders that is likely to focus on growing trade tensions between the two sides.

Mandelson has also complained that China's protection of patents and other intellectual property is far too lax and that limits on foreign investments in key economic sectors are unfair.


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