Chinese Commerce Minister Zhong Shan. Photo: Reuters/Aly Song

Chinese Commerce Minister Zhong Shan said on Sunday that America’s trade deficit with China had been overstated by official US statistics.

From China’s official Xinhua news agency:

Different statistical methods widen US trade deficit with China by around 20 percent, [Zhong] said Sunday.

A joint work group found that the trade deficit number tracked by the United States was overestimated by 21 percent last year, [the commerce minister] said on the sidelines of the first session of the 13th National People’s Congress.

His comments came after the US Commerce Department said on Friday that America’s monthly trade deficit with China reached a near 10-year high in January. The data come as President Donald Trump steps up his aggressive trade rhetoric, pledging to slap tariffs on China aimed at narrowing the trade deficit.

In addition to tariffs on steel and aluminum imports announced last week, media reports have indicated action on an investigation into Chinese intellectual-property theft and forced technology transfer may be announced soon.

Trump said during his announcement on metals tariffs that his administration would eventually impose a “reciprocal tax,” which would match any tariffs placed on US exports with a tax of equal value.

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