The move is seen as a tit-for-tat exchange with the US after Washington said it would launch a complaint against Beijing’s support for car exports.
The two cases could shift the focus to President Barack Obama’s management of the sometimes contentious US relationship with China and his support for the car industry in the final weeks before a close election.
Beijing’s complaint to the World Trade Organisation about “countervailing duties”, or tariffs intended to combat export-promoting subsidies, came a few hours after the White House said it would launch a trade complaint against China over what it says is Beijing’s unfair backing of its auto industry.
China’s complaint could affect close to 30 products that have previously been targeted by US duties, a trade official familiar with the case said.
In a brief statement, the WTO said the products included steel, tires, magnets, chemicals, kitchen appliances, wood flooring and wind towers.
In March, the US House of Representatives had voted to ensure the United States can impose duties on subsidised goods from China and Vietnam, a move the White House said was needed to protect American jobs. Obama has signed the bill.
China’s Commerce Ministry hit out against the US yesterday for targeting China with anti-subsidy duties.
“China hopes that the United States can correct its mistaken policy and appropriately resolve China’s concerns through WTO dispute resolution mechanisms and consultations,” Commerce Ministry spokesman Shen Danyang said in a statement.
The Commerce Ministry made no mention of the US decision to initiate a case against China at the WTO over allegedly illegal subsidies for automobiles and auto parts.
Obama has said Beijing is abusing trade laws by imposing more than $3bn (£1.8bn) in duties on US auto exports.