On August 18, the US announced it planned to look into hacking and reports that the Chinese government is steering investment into US companies in key industries as a way to gain access to new technology.
US officials will gather comments and hold a hearing in October as part of the so-called Section 301 investigation.
Penalties might be targeted against individual companies, or more wide-ranging, which will shape China’s reaction.
On August 15, China’s commerce ministry warned: “If the US side takes actions that impair the mutual trade relations, disregarding the facts and disrespecting multilateral trade rules, China will not sit idle.”
The US and China have failed to agree on trade after contentious talks in Washington.
The two sides did not issue a joint statement or action plan after the meeting and canceled scheduled press conferences.
The US was critical of China’s trade surplus and demanded “more fair” trade arrangements.
Separately, President Donald Trump indicated that tariffs on Chinese steel were still a possibility.
In his opening remarks to the annual US-China Comprehensive Economic Dialogue, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross criticized China’s $347 billion trade surplus with the US, saying it was not the product of market forces.