BEIJING - China said it adamantly opposed a U.S. inquiry that could lead to new duties of 100 percent or more on seamless steel Chinese-made pipes, accusing Washington of blindly hitting its products with anti-dumping accusations.

The angry words from China's Ministry of Commerce came after the U.S. Commerce Department said on Wednesday it had launched an investigation that could lead to new duties of nearly 100 percent or more on imports of the steel pipes from China.

The new pipes investigation followed President Barack Obama's recent decision to slap a 35 percent duty on tyres made in China. Beijing has also objected to a European Union decision to impose anti-dumping tariffs on Chinese-made seamless steel pipes.

The United States was making China a scapegoat for its homegrown economic woes, the Chinese Ministry of Commerce said on its website on Saturday (

The fundamental reason for the hardships facing the U.S. steel industry is the serious drop in consumer strength and demand caused by the financial crisis, an unnamed official from the Ministry's fair trade division was quoted as saying in response to the pipe inquiry.

There is no factual basis for ascribing these difficulties to imports and making blind accusations about dumping or subsidies involving Chinese imports, said the official. The Chinese side is adamantly opposed to this.

Such steps would not help the U.S. steel sector but would harm U.S. consumers, said the official, who said Washington has so far this year launched seven inquiries against Chinese imports that include claims of both dumping and unfair state subsidies.

In a separate action, the United States imposed preliminary duties last month on Chinese-made steel pipe used to transport oil. The latest case involves seamless carbon and alloy steel standard pipes used in industry to carry liquids and gases.

The U.S. petitioners requested a 98.37 percent duty to offset what they allege to be unfairly low prices for Chinese-made steel pipe sold in the United States. They also want additional duties to offset claimed Chinese government subsidies.

The U.S. International Trade Commission will vote by early November on whether there is enough evidence for the case to proceed.

(Reporting by Chris Buckley; Editing by Bill Tarrant)