BEIJING - Raising the stakes in an increasingly bitter trade spat, China threatened on Thursday to raise import duties on some U.S. products following a World Trade Organization ruling that Washington’s tariffs on steel are illegal.
Beijing also said it was delaying the departure of an official trade delegation bound for the United States — a trip that was to follow up last week’s $6 billion buying spree by a similar delegation.
And it summoned U.S. Ambassador Clark Randt for the second time in two days so it could express its ‘‘deep regret and firm opposition’’ to new U.S. import quotas on Chinese textiles, the government said through its Xinhua News Agency.
Vice Commerce Minister Ma Xiuhong called on the United States to lift its steel tariffs, imposed in March 2002 to protect U.S. steel manufacturers but declared unlawful by the WTO.
‘‘If the United States did not observe the WTO ruling, China would raise the tariffs of some U.S. products and plans to do so were under discussion,’’ Xinhua reported, citing Ma.
The agency’s Web site, Xinhuanet, used slightly stronger language, saying China ‘‘is going to raise tariffs on some U.S. imports, and plans are being studied.’’
Neither report said which American imports would be affected.
U.S. Commerce Secretary Don Evans refused to comment Thursday on the Bush administration’s plans regarding steel, but said the United States would not tolerate unfair business and trade practices by China.
Speaking outside talks in Miami for a Free Trade Area of the Americas, Evans said the United States wouldn’t put up with a Chinese economy that had 50 percent of all businesses state-owned and high levels of counterfeit goods.
‘‘We will fight very hard for a level playing field,’’ he said. ‘‘We are all going to play by the same rules.’’