U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk announced the United States is challenging China's imposition of anti-dumping and countervailing duties on more than $3 billion in exports of American-produced automobiles.
The United States has requested dispute settlement consultations with China at the World Trade Organization "in an attempt to eliminate these unfair duties, which appear to represent yet another abuse of trade remedies by China," the trade representative's office said in a statement.
At the White House, Obama aides said the announcement was not political, then slammed likely Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney for not supporting such actions in the past.
"The [import] duties disproportionately fall on General Motors and Chrysler products," White House press secretary Jay Carney told reporters, adding that the region visited by Obama this week "was also disproportionately affected."
He said Thursday's was the seventh such action taken against China, and, "The previous six have all been successful."
Carney said the Chinese were given a heads up about the action, which has been in the works for some time, but, "I think it underscores the president's commitment to American companies and American workers."
White House Communications Director Jen Psaki told reporters Romney had opposed a 2009 action by the president on Chinese tire imports.
"Many of you didn't read Mitt Romney's book," she said in regard to his opposition. "Along this trip, the president will meet many autoworkers. He will meet people impacted by this who would no question say something different so that's something to look out for."