BEIJING, Mar 7 (AFP): Chinese Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing urged the United States Tuesday to remove restrictions on high-tech exports that were put in place following the crushing of the 1989 Tiananmen democracy uprising.
"We hope the US side will earnestly deal with China's concerns and relax restrictions of high technological exports to China, oppose legislation influencing normal trade cooperation and work together to develop healthy Sino-US trade relations," Li told journalists.
Li's comments come ahead of Chinese President Hu Jintao's visit to Washington next month, with the US trade deficit with China certain to be on the agenda.
The US trade deficit with China rose 24.5 per cent to 201.6 billion dollars last year, fuelling criticism in Washington that Beijing is manipulating global trade rules, especially through an artificially weak currency.
"Some American friends are complaining that China's trade surplus with the United States is too big," Li said on the sidelines of the ongoing National People's Congress, the nation's parliament.
"But the reasons behind the surplus are complicated... there are some very expensive things that they don't sell like items with high technological content that have dual civilian and military uses."
The United States placed restrictions on such "dual use" exports to China following Beijing's brutal crushing of the 1989 Tiananmen democracy protests and has refused to remove them despite repeated efforts by the Chinese side.
Restricted items reportedly include advanced computers as well as high tech nuclear power equipment and advance aerospace, satellite and rocket technology.
Li joked that a cup of tea would have military uses if a soldier drank it and expressed concerns that the restrictions were being used in an arbitrary fashion and against World Trade Organization norms.
"Sometimes we don't need to politicize some issues, it is better to follow the norms of the World Trade Organisation," Li said.
According to China's statistics bilateral trade between the two reached 211.6 billion dollars last year, up 24.8 per cent, Li said.
"China has already become the United States' fastest growing export market," he said.
Li also addressed US complaints over intellectual property rights (IPR) violations, saying that Beijing investigated 39,000 trademark violations in 2005, while Chinese courts heard 3,500 IPR cases.