The United States and the European Union filed complaints with the World Trade Organization Tuesday, accusing China of restricting exports of key raw materials used in the steel and chemical industries.
U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk says China is a leading producer of these raw materials - including bauxite, coke, fluorspar, magnesium, manganese, silicon metal, silicon carbide, yellow phosphorus, and zinc. He says by limiting access to these materials, China is giving its own businesses an unfair advantage.
This is the first trade complaint that the United States has lodged against China since U.S. President Barack Obama took office.
Kirk says the U.S. must fight this type of domestic favoritism "now, more than ever."
The U.S. and EU say still they hope to resolve the dispute through dialogue.
The U.S. and China have taken other trade disputes to the World Trade Organization.
In April, China filed a complaint against the U.S. over a law banning Chinese poultry imports.
Earlier this year, the WTO ruled against China on some aspects of U.S. complaints about copyright infringements (over allegations China was illegally copying U.S. movies, music, software and luxury goods.)
Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.