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China fights back against U.S. accusations of blocking WTO technology deal

Chinese Commerce Minister Gao Hucheng attends a news conference with European Union Trade Commissioner Karel de Gucht (not pictured) at the
Chinese Commerce Minister Gao Hucheng attends a news conference with European Union Trade Commissioner Karel de Gucht (not pictured) at the

BEIJING (Reuters) - Commerce Minister Gao Hucheng denounced the United States as "irresponsible" on Sunday after Washington accused China of jeopardizing a deal that aims to cut tariffs on technology products, saying Washington had disappointed participants in the talks.

U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman said on Thursday that China's demands to exempt more than 100 products from a technology trade deal risked leading to a breakdown in the negotiations.

"It is irresponsible for the U.S. to discard the consensus that has been agreed by most of the countries only because the deal cannot meet its own requirement for several products," Gao said in a statement emailed to Reuters.

China, he said, had pushed forward negotiations to expand the Information Technology Agreement (ITA) and proven its willingness to improve its offer several times during the talks.

Gao said U.S. demands far exceeded what was acceptable to Chinese companies.

"The U.S. is unwilling to make any necessary concessions and has turned a blind eye to the big differences between Chinese and U.S. firms, ignoring the appeals by the Chinese side," he said.

He said due account should be taken of the different levels of development of the countries involved in the negotiations.

European Trade Commissioner Karel de Gucht last week said China's demands were the main outstanding issue in the talks.

The talks seek to expand a 16-year-old World Trade Organization agreement and update it for the Internet era, cutting the import cost of items like personal computers, laptops, telephones, fax machines, computer software and semi-conductors.

(Reporting by Aileen Wang; Editing by Ron Popeski)

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