SHANGHAI — A top Chinese official on Sunday vowed Beijing would pursue more balanced trade with the United States, as the country's Vice President Xi Jinping prepares for an official US visit.
Xi, the country's leader-in-waiting, is likely to face a barrage of complaints over China's allegedly discriminatory trade policies when he visits the United States in the coming week.
Trade tensions between the world's two largest economies are on the rise as US President Barack Obama seeks to spark economic growth and create jobs -- and bids for re-election -- by attacking the deep US trade deficit with China.
China's Vice Minister of Commerce, Gao Hucheng, said both countries should make efforts to address the imbalance.
"The imbalance in bilateral trade is a fact," Gao was quoted by the official Xinhua news agency as saying.
"Both sides must gradually resolve it in the course of adjusting the economic structure."
The US trade deficit with China reached a record high of more than $295 billion in 2011, according to US figures.
Gao said the United States could sell more to China if Washington would loosen its export controls, particularly for technology products.
Washington should also be "fair" to Chinese companies seeking to invest in the United States, he said.
In the report, Gao made no mention of the value of China's yuan currency, a perennial sticking point with the United States.
US officials have long accused China of keeping its currency artificially low to boost its exports.
But China defends its exchange rate regime, saying it is moving gradually to make the yuan more flexible.
Analysts say Obama's pledge last month to launch a trade enforcement unit likely to focus on China and a new sweeping complaint against Beijing by the US auto parts industry are raising tensions.
Separately, China's Minister of Agriculture Han Changfu said ahead of the visit that the two countries could increase cooperation in the farming sector, including trade.
China is a keen buyer of American agricultural products, importing nearly $19 billion worth in 2010, Xinhua quoted Han as saying in a separate report.