Chinese officials have expressed their anger at US proposals to introduce new restrictions on textile and clothing imports, saying they would undermine Beijing's co-operation in the new round of global trade talks.

The measures are being demanded by the American Textile Manufacturers Institute (ATMI) in response to China's increased textile exports to the United States this year. In a petition filed with the US Government on 5 September, the ATMI calls for new quotas on knit fabric, bras, gloves, nightwear and textile luggage exports from China when the present quotas end in 2005.

ATMI argues that Chinese exports of textiles and apparel products to the United States increased by almost 900 million square meters in the first six months of this year, and that imports of bras increased by 167 per cent in comparison to the same period last year and imports of gloves rose by 173.2 per cent.

The association wants quotas reimposed under the special safeguard provisions in China's WTO accession agreement, which allow for restrictions if an importing country concludes shipments are causing "market disruption".

However, Chinese officials say the surge in exports is a result of China's entry to the World Trade Organisation entry and " does not directly hurt related industries in the United States." They add that gains have been made instead by displacing other countries' exports.

According to Shi Guangsheng, minister for foreign trade and economic co-operation, China has already sent officials to Washington to argue against the new quotas.