China has blamed the United States for trade problems between the two countries and said the onus is on Washington to resolve them.

Sino-U.S. trade relations improved this year because President Clinton severed the link between trade and China's human rights record practices and because of high-level meetings between Chinese and American officials, the official Xinhua News Agency said this week.Chinese figures show trade between the two countries grew 34 percent to $9.7 billion in the first three quarters. But as the year drew to a close, disputes arose.

"The United States was seen as having taken the leading role in blocking China's re-entry" into the world trade body, the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, Xinhua said.

"Also, during the recent talks between the two countries over protection of intellectual property rights, the chief American negotiator left abruptly, bringing the talks to a screeching halt," Xinhua said.

The U.S. team has said the discussions were suspended because China offered no real proposals. Washington is demanding better enforcement of laws protecting copyrights, patents and trademarks.

Xinhua said the most troublesome problems are the annual renewal process for China's most-favored-nation trade status, U.S. anti-dumping regulations, U.S. control of exports to China, and disputes in the textile trade.

"The essential way to solve such problems is for the U.S. to reinforce its competitiveness in China's markets and get rid of trade protectionism," Xinhua said, turning the tables on Washington, which for years has tried to get China to open its markets to foreign competition.