Washington has launched a trade case with the World Trade Organization over Chinese auto and auto-parts subsidies, Asahi Shimbun reports.

President Barack Obama’s announcement comes after an anti-dumping tariffs and countervailing measures against Chinese solar panel makers earlier this year, a step followed by the European Union with a probe of its own. US trade officials claimed that state subsidies have helped boost China’s auto industry to the fifth-largest in the world in 2011 from 16th in 2002 and accused China of distorting the global market “by frankly flooding the world with cheap auto parts”.

China’s auto exports sharply rose from $7 billion in 2002 to roughly $70 billion at present, according to a senior administration official. Mr. Obama, speaking during a campaign rally, said that Chinese subsidies are threatening American jobs, particularly in manufacturing states such as Ohio, Michigan and across the Midwest. “We are going to stop it. It is not right, it is against the rules, and we will not let it stand,” Mr. Obama said.

Beijing retaliated with a complaint against US duties on many Chinese exports, a trade official familiar with the case told Asahi Shimbun. A senior administration official claimed that China’s move “was not completely unexpected” and pledged that the US would contest the case.