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China Taking US Trade Dispute to WTO

China says it plans to discuss its trade disputes with the United States through the World Trade Organization. But Chinese officials call a U.S. move to impose tariffs protectionist, and warn that it could harm trade relations.

China is trying to allay fears of a trade war with the United States, saying it will press a World Trade Organization case against new U.S. duties on Chinese tires.

The Obama administration says it could impose steep tariffs on tires from China.

Commerce Ministry spokesman Yao Jian Tuesday said China will take up the issue with the WTO.

Yao says China thinks America, in his words, "abused safeguard measures" and "sent a wrong signal to the world amid the financial crisis."

The White House says President Obama acted under a provision in the U.S.-China agreement on Beijing's WTO membership that lets Washington slow the rise of Chinese imports to give American industry time to adjust.

At a separate briefing, Chinese Vice Foreign Minister He Yafei had stronger language.

He calls the U.S. action a "clear case of trade protectionism," and warned that it will damage both Chinese and American interests.

He says China expects leaders at the upcoming G20 summit in Pittsburgh to reaffirm their commitment to avoid imposing new protectionist measures.

Tire wholesalers have said U.S. tariffs on Chinese tires will cause price increases at repair shops and tire retailers.

He Yafei says the duties will lead to a harmful and increased burden on U.S. consumers.

The United States imported about 46 million tires from China last year, three times as many as in 2004.

Beijing's WTO complaint triggered a 60-day process in which the two sides will try to resolve the dispute through negotiations. If that fails, China can ask for a WTO panel to investigate and rule on the case.