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China says trade probe of US sorghum a 'normal' investigation
A Chinese worker pushes a cart full of grain sorghum at a factory north of Beijing, Sunday, Jan. 27, 2008. Photo: AP
A Chinese government spokesman said Monday an anti-dumping probe of imported U.S. sorghum is a "normal case of trade remedy" following suggestions it might be retaliation for Washington's investigation of Chinese steel and other goods.
"I hereby just want to stress that it is merely a normal individual case of trade remedy investigation," foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said at a regularly scheduled news briefing.
The Ministry of Commerce announced Sunday it was investigating whether U.S. sorghum was being exported to China at improperly low prices. 
The Ministry of Commerce said it launched the probe of U.S. sorghum after concluding large volumes and falling prices hurt Chinese producers. It could raise import duties or take other steps if it finds the United States acted improperly.
The United States accounts for more than 90 percent of total sorghum arrivals in China. U.S. imports were worth just over $1 billion last year. The U.S. is the world's top exporter of the grain and China's largest supplier by far, with imports from the U.S. reaching 4.76 million tons in 2017, out of just over 5 million tons in total.
It comes less than a fortnight after Trump slapped steep tariffs on imports of solar panels and washing machines and two months after Washington’s decision to investigate Chinese aluminum alloy sheet, the first U.S.-initiated anti-subsidy and anti-dumping probe in decades.
The White House is believed to be on the verge of announcing results of an investigation into whether Beijing improperly pressures foreign companies to hand over technology.
Those moves had rekindled concerns among global policymakers and markets of a U.S.-China trade war.
Beijing has accused U.S. President Donald Trump of threatening the stability of the international trade regulation system by taking action under U.S. law instead of through the World Trade Organization.
U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said China should conduct the investigation openly and transparently. “Politics play no role in anti-dumping and countervailing duty investigations in the United States, and should not affect the outcomes of the trade investigations conducted by foreign nations,” Ross said in a statement.
The National Sorghum Producers and trade group U.S. Grains Council each said they would cooperate with an investigation, according to Reuters. 
U.S.-Chinese trade relations are "mutually beneficial," Geng said.
"We are willing to deepen reciprocal cooperation with the United States and continue benefiting the two peoples," he said. "We hope the United States will go along with China to make concrete efforts to this end."

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