"China highly values India's concerns on trade imbalance," China's new Ambassador Sun Weidong said

Beijing: China has said it values India's concerns on the bilateral trade imbalance and is willing to discuss new approaches to address the issue and asked New Delhi to join Beijing in its fight against "unilateralism and protectionism" amidst a bruising trade war with the United States.

India for long has been pressing China to open its pharmaceutical market for Indian pharma exports to address the yawning trade deficit which last year according to Chinese figures, crossed USD 57 billion in a USD 95.5 billion trade.

China's new Ambassador to India Sun Weidong said, "China highly values India's concerns on trade imbalance. But I have to point out that we have never deliberately pursued a trade surplus against India."

China for its part, Mr Sun said, has taken measures to increase import of rice and sugar and accelerated the process of review and approvals of Indian pharmaceuticals and agricultural goods.

He said latest figures show that China's imports of Indian goods grew by 15 per cent and more Indian goods have found their way to the Chinese market.

India's export of agricultural goods to China last year actually doubled, he said.

"According to the statistics in the first half this year, India's trade deficit against China is down by five per cent. So I am convinced that with the concerted efforts the issue of trade imbalance between India and China will be gradually addressed," he said.

"China and India have various channels for dialogue to talk about issues like trade imbalance. We are willing to discuss and find new approaches to address the trade imbalances with our Indian friends," he said.

Mr Sun also asked India to join China in the fight against unilateralism and protectionism - a reference to US President Donald Trump's policy using tariffs as a weapon to assert his America first policy.

Trump kicked off a trade war with China last year by slapping 25 per cent duties on more than USD 250 billion of Chinese imports, demanding Beijing to reduce massive trade deficit which climbed to over USD 539 billion.

He is also insisting on China to workout verifiable measures for the protection of intellectual property rights (IPR), technology transfer and more access to US goods to Chinese markets.

Both the countries have imposed additional tariffs on billions of dollars worth of their exports to each other.

There has been a trade friction between India and the US on several issues.

India wants foreign companies to store data locally and announced a review of the rules around e-commerce, moves that alarmed US technology and financial giants.

Donald Trump announced that he would cancel a preferential trade status for India that had allowed USD 5.6 billion in Indian imports to enter the United States duty-free.

About two weeks later India retaliated, announcing tariff hikes on 28 American products including almonds, apples and lentils.

"By doing so, we can ensure international order will become just and rational so as to uphold the shared interests of the developing countries," he said.

Without directly referring to China's current trade war with the US and India's trade frictions with America, Mr Sun said "we are facing unprecedented challenge that is unseen in a century."

"We are both faced with the challenges from unilateralism and protectionism. So we have to resolutely defend the multilateralism and economic globalisation and stand against unilateralism and protectionism," he said.

Without directly referring to concerns in India over China's big push into South Asia with huge investments in Nepal, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka, Mr Sun referred to Beijing's proposal in the past for a China-India Plus approach to address the issues involving these countries.

"We also need to build the China-India Plus mechanism to better promote the regional infrastructure connectivity to ensure better synergy of policy and strategies between countries," he said.