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China puts US trade surplus at US$53 billion

China says its politically volatile trade surplus with theUnited States grew to an estimated US$53.2 billion in the first 11 months of 2003, less than half the size of the gap predicted by Washington, according to official figures released Sunday.

The increase came as China's two-way trade with the United States grew by more than 29 per cent in the same period to US$113.8 billion, according to the figures. China says the United States is its second-largest trading partner afterJapan.

US officials say the American trade deficit with China is expected to surpass US$120 billion for 2003.

The American figures include Chinese exports shipped to the United States via Hong Kong goods that are excluded from Beijing's own calculations. Hong Kong is Chinese territory, but Beijing treats it as a foreign region for trade and customs.

Beijing has sent two multibillion-dollar buying missions to the United States in recent months in hopes of easing growing political tensions. It has purchased jetliners, soybeans and other goods.

Also, China's two-way trade with Japan grew by nearly 31 per cent in the first 11 months of 2003 to US$119.9 billion, according to the figures released by the General Administration of Customs.

They showed that China ran a US$14.4 billion deficit with Japan during that time.

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