(Reuters) - The Senate approved a controversial bill aimed at forcing China to raise the value of the yuan in an effort to save American jobs, sending it to the House of Representatives where its fate is uncertain. Beijing has warned the legislation could spark a trade war but the bill has advanced further than similar ones in the past, reflecting widespread frustration with China's trade policies and how U.S. lawmakers have seized on voter anxiety about high unemployment ahead of elections in 2012. The vote on Tuesday "has put the Chinese on notice: 'Stop your cheating that is costing our country jobs, or you will face the consequences,'" said Democratic Senator Charles Schumer, one of the bill's co-sponsors. China was quick to respond. The Foreign Ministry said the bill was a protectionist step and warned that its passage could disrupt joint efforts by the world's two biggest economies to prop up the global recovery. It urged the Obama administration to oppose the legislation. China's central bank said the yuan is not the primary cause of China's trade surplus with the United States that Washington puts are more than $250 billion. The People's Bank of China added that any gains in the yuan would not improve the American jobs market, where the unemployment rate remains stubbornly above 9 percent, or help the United States tackle its trade deficit. Many U.S. economists say China holds down the value of its yuan to give its exporters an edge in global markets. China says it is committed to gradual currency reform and points to a 30 percent rise in the yuan against the dollar since 2005. The bill would allow the U.S. government to slap duties on products from countries found to be subsidizing their exports by undervaluing their currencies. The yuan fell against the dollar in early trade on Wednesday, as investors worried a Sino-U.S. trade dispute could cause a Chinese retaliation to stop the yuan's steady appreciation.