I.Soaring Trade Between China
and the United States

Developing Sino-US economic and trade relations serves the fundamental interests of both peoples. Following the establishment of diplo"imatic relations between the People's Republic of China and the United States, bilateral economic and trade ties have grown fast, featuring complement and mutual benefit. Occasionally, however, frictions and differences took place. At present, the issue of bilateral trade balance -- much too stressed and even exaggerated by the United States -- has hindered the healthy development of economic and trade relations between the two countries. It has also caused concerns among relevant countries and regions. In our bid to develop Sino-US relations and promote bilateral trade, we think it necessary to make clear the position and viewpoints of the Chinese Government on the issue.

In January 1979, the People's Republic of China and the United States established formal diplomatic relations. Six months later, the governments of the two countries signed the ``Agreement on Trade Relations Between the People's Republic of China and the United States of America'' granting each other the most-favoured-nation trading status. Since then, Sino-US trade and economic relations entered a period of fast growth. According to Chinese statistics, Sino-US trade volume was 2.45 billion US dollars in 1979 but rocketed to 42.84 billion US dollars in 1996, with an accumulative volume of 260.6 billion US dollars over the past 18 years. The United States became China's third largest trade partner in 1979, and rose to the second place in 1996. According to US statistics, bilateral trade was 2.37 billion US dollars in 1979 and topped 63.5 billion US dollars in 1996, totalling 376 billion US dollars in the past 18 years. Among trade partners of the United States, China ranked the 24th in 1980 and claimed the fifth place in 1995. Despite statistical discrepancies, trade figures of the two sides both suggested an average annual bilateral trade growth rate of more than 18% over the last 18 years. This has been the mainstream in the development of Sino-US economic and trade relations.

Chinese statistics indicate that, in 1996, US products accounted for 11.6% of China's total imports, while US statistics show 5.42% of its imports last year came from China. The United States is one of the fastest growing markets for Chinese exports while China is also one of the fastest growing markets for US exports. Both countries' statistics suggest that between 1990 and 1996, US exports to China grew by more than 16% a year on average, far exceeding the overall US export growth in the period. China is one of its trade partners with which the United States scored the highest export growth. This is mainly attributable to the marked differences in the two countries' resources, economic structures, industrial setup and consumption levels, and to the fact that their economies can be complementary to each other. China is a developing country with low labour costs, but suffers from capital constraint and relatively under-developed scientific and technological development. The United States is a developed country with abundant capital and highly advanced technologies, but suffers from high labour costs. China mainly sells to the United States labour-intensive products such as textiles, garments, shoes, toys, electric home appliances and luggage. The United States mainly sells to China capital- and technology-intensive products such as aircraft, power generation equipment, machinery, electronics, telecommunications equipment and chemical machinery, as well as agricultural products including grain and cotton. So complementary and mutually beneficial is the structure of their exchanges of goods that it has greatly pushed the development of bilateral trade.