A Chinese official on Wednesday warned that the country will resist attempts to block its clothing exports with caps or safeguards proposed by the United States.

Haiyun Liu, a senior official at the Chinese Embassy, said China would also consider voluntary restrictions or caps on the amount of clothing it exports to the US "a breach of the WTO."
Speaking at a conference held by the Washington International Trade Association he said China had every right to protest against any such moves at the WTO.

His comments will not come as good news to Grant D Aldonas, the commerce department's under secretary of international trade, who is visiting China this week to ask China to agree to a limit on textile and clothing exports.

The move is intended to head off safeguard petitions from US textile makers who say the expiration of import quotas this year will lead to a surge in Chinese imports.

US trade groups believe the domestic textile industry will lose 600,000 jobs when quotas are lifted at the beginning of 2005.

The Bush administration hopes to persuade the Chinese to agree to limits in areas where American manufacturers have been strong, like trousers and knit shirts.