China is warning the United States that imposing stiff duties on Chinese-made television sets will only worsen trade tensions between the two countries.

The warning came a day after Washington announced it was imposing provisional duties on imports of Chinese-made TVs.

The U.S. Department of Commerce said it was imposing duties as high as 46 percent after finding that televisions made by four Chinese firms were selling in the United States for less than fair market value. The practice is commonly referred to as "dumping."

The penalties were the latest volley in an escalating war of words over trade between the two countries.

Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao on Tuesday said the latest announcement by Washington will make the situation worse.

"Don't impose sanctions or restrictions, which do not help, but rather damage the two nations' interests," he warned.

Word of the U.S. trade sanctions came as Chinese officials were still reeling from Washington's announcement last week of new import restrictions on some Chinese textile products.

Washington is continuing to allege that unfair Chinese trade practices are costing millions of Americans their jobs.

U.S. officials estimate this year's trade imbalance with China will top $120 billion.

China counters by saying the bulk of its exports come from factories that are owned by foreign firms, which reap most of the profits.