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China has welcomed the ruling of the World Trade Organization's dispute settlement panel rejecting a majority of charges by the United States against China in a dispute over electronic payments, the Ministry of Commerce said on Monday.
The panel turned down 13 of the 24 points made by the US that alleged China had set restrictions on US credit-card payment processors, such as Visa and MasterCard, while China UnionPay enjoys a monopoly.
Ministry spokesman Shen Danyang said China "welcomes the judgment" and will carefully evaluate the ruling.
In 2010, the US alleged that China had released a number of restrictive measures to allow China UnionPay to monopolize payment card transactions in renminbi since 2001.
The service of yuan payment card transactions falls into the category of clearing, according to Chinese practices. This is not included in the areas China promised to open when it joined the WTO.
Since the dispute settlement panel judged it to be a payment service that China made a commitment to open up, rather than clearing, China "reserves its opinion", according to Shen.
The ministry said it hasn't decided whether to bring the case to the WTO for an appeal, but said it will further evaluate the judgment.
In 2010, electronic payment transactions worth several hundreds of billions of dollars were made in China.
China's financial market should be opened up but this should proceed in an orderly and cautious way, as the financial sector is a very sensitive part of every country's security and development, said Guo Tianyong, director of the Banking Research Center under the Central University of Finance and Economics.
UnionPay and MasterCard were not immediately available for comment when approached by China Daily. Visa could not be reached for comment.
This is the third case that China was brought to the global trade arbitrator related to its service sector, while a majority of disputes take place in the trade of goods.
"We don't exclude the possibility that more cases of this kind will come up in the future as the explanation of WTO rules in this sector remains preliminary," said Li Chenggang, director of the ministry's treaty and law department.
The electronic payment case came amid an increasing number of disputes between the two countries in recent years.
In May, China launched a complaint at the WTO against US import duties on 22 Chinese products that the US said were unfairly priced or subsidized. Earlier this month, the US intensified its trade dispute with China by making a complaint over China's import duties on US cars.
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