The United States is accusing China of illegally subsidizing its exporters in seven industries.
U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman said Beijing provided at least $1 billion in illegal subsidies during the past three years. The financial support, he said, violates rules set by the World Trade Organization.
Froman said Chinese textile, clothing, metal, chemical, medical product, building material and agricultural industries benefited from the Chinese government's subsidies. He said the subsidies hurt U.S. workers, farmers, ranchers and businesses by reducing competition and threatening jobs and wages in the United States.
The United States said it would try to reach a settlement of the case with China at the WTO, but if that failed, the U.S. could ask the Geneva-based agency to rule in the dispute.
There was no immediate reaction to the dispute from Beijing.
The U.S. accusation came a day after President Barack Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping spoke by phone, with the Chinese leader set to make a state visit to Washington in September.