GE China employees sit in the company's booth at an international expo in Beijing in 2009. [Photo / China Daily]
The comments came at a monthly forum on China-US Economic Relations held by the China Center for International Economic Exchanges (CCIEE) - a high-level business thinktank - on Wednesday.
Wei Jianguo, a former vice-minister of commerce, and now secretary-general of the CCIEE, urged the US to quickly reduce restrictions on high-tech exports to China in a bid to narrow the trade surplus, an issue that has become central to bilateral trade conflicts.
"The sooner the US does it (loosens the restrictions), the more leverage it will gain in the future and the more commercial benefits it will gain otherwise, the business opportunities (in terms of high-volume Chinese imports of high-tech products) will naturally slip away to other nations, including those in the EU and Japan," said Wei.
During the 3rd China-EU High-Level Economic and Trade Dialogue held in Beijing in December, the EU agreed to set up a working panel to examine boosting high-tech sales to China.
A meeting on the issue is expected to be held early this year, after the two sides reached a consensus on increasing cooperation on high-tech trade.
China has a large trade surplus with the US, which the US attributes to the yuan being undervalued.
China denies this, and says that the best way to promote Chinese imports is for the US to abandon its restrictions on high-tech exports.
The export of high-tech products to China, for both military and civilian use, has long been forbidden by the US despite repeated calls for change.
During President Hu Jintao's four-day visit to Washington last week, China again made a proposal on the issue during the bilateral high-level meeting.
Although China signed a series of agreements on purchasing US goods worth as much as $45 billion, no progress was made on the issues of export controls.
"China and the US have been cooperating well, but US export controls are a big problem in bilateral economic relations," said Sun Zhenyu, the former Chinese ambassador to the World Trade Organization, at the forum.
"US exports to China would easily increase if such a restriction did not exist."
Some US companies have also agreed with that statment.
"The US government has to look at reducing controls, because erecting barriers cannot be the answer to US need to create jobs and prosperous growth," said Mark Norbom, president of General Electric China.
GE, the largest US industrial company by market value, announced a number of deals with Chinese groups last week that will create about 4,500 jobs in the US, including the formal signing of a joint venture agreement with the Aviation Industry Corporation of China to set up a 50-50 joint venture to provide avionics for the new Chinese C919 airliner.