The US commerce secretary warned China on Saturday of a potential political backlash in Washington amid tensions over mounting Chinese trade surpluses, surging textile exports and rampant product piracy.
"Respectfully, I don't believe that there is full appreciation in China for the level of political pressure that we face with respect to our relationship," Carlos Gutierrez told his Chinese counterpart, Bo Xilai (
Gutierrez was on his first visit to Beijing amid a storm of Chinese criticism over US textile quotas. He said he planned to press China to end rampant copying of movies, music and other goods.
He warned this week that China had to take action on meeting commitments to open its markets or risk fueling opposition in the US to free trade.
Bo hinted at the tensions, saying there were "some points of debate" between the two governments. However, he insisted that "only on the basis of mutual benefit can we make our trade and economic relationship bigger."
Details of the rest of their talks weren't immediately released.
In a meeting later yesterday, Vice Premier Wu Yi (
Gutierrez on Friday said that he would press China for proof that it is taking action to stop product piracy. He said companies have told him they have not "seen much change" despite Chinese promises to put an end to the illicit trade that they say costs them billions of dollars a year in lost potential sales.
Also Friday, Bo criticized US textile quotas as a violation of free trade during a meeting in South Korea of Asian-Pacific trade officials.
The US and the EU both imposed controls after imports of low-priced Chinese textiles soared following the end of a worldwide quota system on Jan. 1.
Gutierrez said he wouldn't negotiate over the quotas but stressed that Beijing's WTO membership agreement allows them in response to "market disruption." He said Washington believed it had "every right in the world" to take action.
Despite Chinese promises to stamp out the illicit trade, pirated movies, music, computer software, designer clothes and other goods are freely available in Chinese markets.
US officials have warned that China could face formal WTO complaints over its failure to enforce copyrights and patents.