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China commerce ministry says disappointed at European probe into e-bike exporters

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BEIJING, Dec 28 (Reuters) - China's commerce ministry said it is disappointed at the European Commission's decision to launch a probe into Chinese exporters of electronic bicycles, adding that Europe misunderstands the Chinese market.

The European Commission launched an investigation on Dec. 21 into whether Chinese exporters of e-bikes benefited from excessive state subsidies, the latest in a string of European probes into Chinese exports ranging from solar panels to steel.

China's e-bike market is fully market-based, said ministry spokesman Gao Feng at a regular briefing in Beijing on Thursday.

The European Bicycle Manufacturing Association wants the European Commission to impose duties on Chinese e-bikes.

"China hopes the European Union will respect World Trade Organization rules," Gao said.

Europeans buy some 20 million bicycles per year, of which about 10 percent are now e-bikes, with the potential to rise to a quarter of sales within five years.

Chinese producers, including Battle-Fushida, Aima and Tianjin Golden Wheel, sold e-bikes worth some 307 million euros in the EU in the year to Sept. 30. (Reporting by Elias Glenn; Writing by Ryan Woo; Editing by Editing by Michael Perry)