The latest flare-up in relations between Washington and Beijing comes against a backdrop of disagreements over Internet freedoms in China that after the search engine Google threatened to pull out of the country over censorship and hacking attacks.
President Obama has said he does not want to impose protectionist measures against Chinese imports as that would close off that market to US manufacturers but there are a number of trade disputes between the two.
On the basis that Chinese-made tyres had cost more than 5,000 US jobs, Washington last year imposed punitive import duties of 35 percent on those tyres.
The trade gap between the two countries is huge; in the first 11 month of last year the US imported 270 billion dollars worth of Chinese goods .. and exported just 61.2 billion dollars worth.
Washington has said one reason for that disparity is that US goods face a competitive disadvantage because the Chinese currency, the yuan, is being kept at an artificially low level by Beijing making Chinese products cheap overseas.
The Peterson Institute for International Economics in Washington has estimated that the yuan is undervalued by about 30 percent against all world currencies and about 40 percent against the dollar but China has resisted devaluing, saying exchange rate policy is an internal matter.
Trade war looms?