Responding to remarks by U.S. President Donald Trump, a Chinese spokeswoman on Thursday said the country never intentionally sought a trade surplus with the United States and that some frictions are inevitable.
Trump on Wednesday said the U.S. trade deficit with China was "through the roof," calling it "so big and bad that it's embarrassing saying what the number is."
Foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said China hopes to work out differences through negotiations to "ensure the sound and steady growth of bilateral trade and economic ties."
"We have never intentionally pursued a trade surplus. The current pattern of China's trade cooperation with other countries, including the U.S., is determined by the market," Hua told reporters at a daily briefing. "In the process of rapid development of bilateral trade and economic relations, it is inevitable for us to encounter some frictions and differences."
Trump arrives in Beijing on Tuesday for a visit as part of a 10-day swing through Asia. Trade and market access for U.S. products are expected to be high on the agenda.
The U.S. ran up a $347 billion trade deficit with China last year. That was a decrease of 5.5 percent after hitting an all-time high of $367.2 billion in 2015, although it is still far and away the largest the U.S. has with any country.
In an apparent nod to protocol, Trump on Wednesday appeared to shy away from direct confrontation over the issue, saying, "I don't want to embarrass anybody four days before I land in China, but it's horrible."