US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer on Wednesday slammed Beijing for failing to offer "meaningful reform" on aggressive trade policies that harm US workers and industry, and threatened tariffs on Chinese autos.
The latest trade threat against China comes days before President Donald Trump is due to meet with Chinese leader Xi Jinping to defuse the ongoing trade conflict between the world's top two economic powers.
Instead, Lighthizer's statement escalated the dispute further, saying: "China's aggressive, state-directed industrial policies are causing severe harm to US workers and manufacturers."
And while talks continue, "As of yet, China has not come to the table with proposals for meaningful reform," he said.
The country's policies on auto tariffs are "especially egregious," taxing US cars at more than double the rate it charges other countries.
"At the president's direction, I will examine all available tools to equalize the tariffs applied to automobiles," he said.
Trump already has imposed steep punitive tariffs on about half of the Chinese goods imported into the US market each year, and has threatened to target the remaining $267 billion as well -- which would hit Apple iPhones and laptops produced in China.
He said on Monday that he did not think an agreement would be reached this week that would prevent a scheduled increase in the tariff rate on $200 billion in goods. But a White House advisor on Tuesday said Trump believed there was a "good possibility" to reach a deal.
© Agence France-Presse