China on Thursday said it was firmly against rising protectionism and would take "all necessary measures" to defend the legal interests of its exporting companies.
"The government will launch diplomatic negotiations, push for dialogue and cooperation, and help domestic industry associations and businesses respond to lawsuits," Chinese Commerce Ministry spokesperson Sun Jiwen said.
"We will also resort to dispute settlement mechanisms if necessary," Xinhua news quoted Sun as saying
Chinese exporters suffered a record 119 trade remedy investigations, initiated by 27 countries or regions, last year, a 36.8 per cent increase from 2015, the state-controlled agency said.
The cases involved $14.34 billion of US goods, up 76 per cent year on year.
Weighed on by trade remedies, China's full-year exports in 2016 dropped 2 per cent in yuan-denominated terms, with trade surplus down 9.1 per cent, customs data showed.
"China has become the main target of protectionism as certain countries frequently impose restrictions on Chinese products to protect their own industries," Sun said.
"China respects the right to use trade remedies but is deeply concerned about some countries' excess protection of domestic industries by harming Chinese businesses," Sun said.
"The abuse of trade measures makes no contribution to addressing industrial difficulties… but will likely disrupt normal global and bilateral trade."