Peter Mandelson, the European Union trade commissioner, on Wednesday called on China to restrain its textile and clothing exports following the lifting of quotas at the beginning of the year.

Speaking to the University of International Business and Economics in Beijing on his first official visit to China, Mr Mandelson said: "We can all benefit from liberalisation and we are not going back to the system of restrictions that existed for so many years.

"But I think that some moderation and caution in the rate of growth of Chinese textiles exports - pacing it over time - will help to ensure a harmonious adjustment to this new global trading environment."

He added: "If there is a perception that China is reaping the benefits of free trade without meeting the standards of fair trade, there will be a negative response in Europe and elsewhere."

Mandelson said he had been "encouraged" by China's readiness to introduce taxes on its textile and clothing exports from 1 January 2005 in an attempt to inhibit a dramatic surge of exports, but added: "There is much concern that these measures will not be sufficient."

"It is quite possible that Europe will use special safeguards, but not certain," Mr Mandelson said.

He also called on China to face up to other international responsibilities, such as the gradual liberalisation of the exchange rate of the Yuan and the protection of human rights.