BEIJING (Reuters) -- China said it has been made a victim of U.S. electoral politics after Washington launched an international trade case alleging that Beijing has been unfairly subsidizing automobile and auto parts exports.
U.S. President Barack Obama announced the World Trade Organization case against China over allegedly illegal subsidies for automobiles and auto parts during an election campaign stop in Ohio on Monday.
Beijing fired back hours after White House officials made the announcement with a complaint against U.S. duties on many Chinese exports, in the latest example of tit-for-tat trade disputes filed between the world's two largest economies.
In its first official comment on the complaint, issued on Tuesday evening, the Chinese Ministry of Commerce was unusually blunt in blaming the case on the race for the White House.
"In the midst of an election race, the United States chose to announce this news in Ohio, an automobile production area, showing that the U.S. took this step against China out of considerations of electoral politics," an unidentified Chinese commerce official said on the ministry's website.
"We express our opposition to this," said the official, adding that China will deal with the U.S. request for consultations in keeping with WTO rules.
Obama's latest trade enforcement steps come as he and Republican rival Mitt Romney vie for a few important states, including Ohio, that could determine the outcome of the Nov. 6 presidential election.