The Bush administration has announced new trade cases against China over copyright piracy and restrictions on the sale of American movies, music and books.
Standing near a table of pirated movie DVDs, music CDs and books, US Trade Representative Susan Schwab said American companies were losing billions of dollars annually from piracy levels in China that "remain unacceptably high."
She said the United States would file the two cases with the World Trade Organisation, the Geneva-based organisation that oversees trade disputes.
One case will contend that Beijing's lax enforcement of copyright and trademark protections violates WTO rules, and the other will argue that Beijing has erected WTO-illegal barriers to the sale of US-produced movies, music and books in China.
The action marked the latest move against China on the part of the Bush administration, which is trying to deal with rising political anger over soaring US trade deficits.
In Beijing, the Xinhua News Agency reported that that the Chinese government "expressed on Tuesday great regret and strong dissatisfaction" at the US decision to file the complaints.
The trade cases exposed a split in the business community: the film, music and book publishing industries supported the move while some other industries were concerned over whether the aggressive approach to China could result in retribution.
Ms Schwab noted that the software industry scored a big victory last year when China agreed to sell all computers with operating software.
The US trade deficit set a record for the fifth consecutive year in 2006 at $765.3 billion. The imbalance with China grew to $232.5 billion, the highest ever with a single country.
Earlier this year, the administration filed a WTO case against China's use of government subsidies to support Chinese companies.
The administration on March 30 announced it was imposing penalty tariffs on Chinese glossy paper imports in a case that broke a 23-year precedent that had barred US companies from seeking such protection in cases involving nonmarket economies such as China.