BEIJING (AFP) - China voiced regret over the European Union's decision to lodge an intellectual property rights complaint at the World Trade Organisation, just as Beijing is embroiled in a similar dispute with Washington.
The EU brought the challenge to the WTO last Friday (June 1), accusing Beijing of unfairly requiring foreign firms to hand over their technology to Chinese companies in order to do business in China.
"China expresses regret over the EU launching the complaint and will properly handle it according to the WTO dispute settlement procedures," China's Ministry of Commerce said in a statement published late on Sunday.
"The Chinese government has always attached great importance to the protection of intellectual property rights and has adopted many powerful measures to protect the legitimate rights and interests of domestic and foreign intellectual property rights holders."
Foreign companies need to form joint ventures with local companies to do business in the massive Chinese market, which often involves sharing their technology and know-how.
US allegations that China steals company secrets are at the heart of the ongoing trade dispute between the world's two biggest economies.
Washington launched its own WTO challenge over alleged Chinese IP breaches on March 23.
The two countries have held a series of negotiations aimed at averting a trade war.
US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and Chinese Vice-Premier Liu He held talks at the weekend, which ended with Beijing warning that any deals would be void if Washington follows through on threats to impose massive tariffs on Chinese goods.