China launched an anti-dumping investigation of European wine Wednesday, literally hours after the European Union imposed tariffs on imports of what the EU called improper state subsidies of Chinese solar panels.

In announcing its probe, China's Commerce Department said China had tried repeatedly to satisfy EU concerns about its solar panels, a concern that is expected to produced tariffs of as much as 67.9 percent. Tariffs will be phased in, beginning with a rate of 11.8 percent.

“The European side still obstinately imposed unfair duties on Chinese imports of solar panels,” the ministry said on its website, adding that the probe was prompted by requests from Chinese wine producers.

“The Commerce Ministry has already received an application from the domestic wine industry, which accuses wines imported from Europe of entering China’s market by use of unfair trade tactics such as dumping and subsidies,” the ministry said in a separate statement. “This has impacted upon our wine industry, and [they have] asked the Commerce Ministry to begin an anti-dumping and anti-subsidy probe."

The escalation of trade tensions between the two economic powerhouses threatens some $168 billion worth of imports and exports combined. Last year China imported 114 million gallons of European wine. More than two-thirds of that came from the 27-member EU bloc; France alone supplied 45 million gallons, the South China Post said.

Europe is China's largest trading partner, and the spat comes as both are suffering sharp downturns in their economies. Europe has been in recession for a year and a half, while the growth of China's gross domestic product declined in the first quarter to 7.7, far below what the world's second-largest economy was enjoying only a few years ago. 

The EU now has 31 ongoing trade investigations, 18 of which involve China.