The US accused Chinese companies of dumping televisions on the US market and slapped stiff duties on the products in the latest flare-up in trade tension between the two economic giants.
The US Commerce Department ruled on Monday that televisions from four Chinese firms were being sold in the US at less than fair value and announced provisional anti-dumping duties of 28 percent to 46 percent on the sets.
The ruling follows a US decision last week to limit imports of some Chinese textiles and added to tension between the world's biggest and fifth biggest trading nations, fanning fears in Asia that the US was growing more protectionist.
US television makers and unions complained that imports from China and Malaysia had mushroomed to 2.65 million sets a year last year from 210,000 two years earlier. No ruling was made on Malaysian televisions.
"Dumping can seriously injure or destroy an entire industry," Tom Hopson, the president of Tennessee television maker Five Rivers Electronic Innovations, said in a statement.
"US workers lose jobs when employers are forced to compete with unfair imports, which pressure US manufacturers to lower prices in what is typically a futile attempt to maintain market share," he said.
Booming Chinese factories have become important suppliers to major US retailers such as Wal-Mart, boosting the US trade deficit with China to a record US$103 billion last year.
US officials have pushed China to increase the value of its yuan, to take pressure off US manufacturers who blame Chinese competition for the loss of millions of jobs.
Some analysts say they expect a series of trade skirmishes with China ahead of US elections late next year. President George W. Bush's re-election bid could be determined by a clutch of manufacturing states.
Other US industries -- including iron pipe and bedroom furniture makers -- have also sought protection under anti-dumping laws.