Former top trade official says Americans see Chinese imports as a threat to jobs Sino-US trade relations are likely to worsen because China's growing economic importance opens the door to new areas of friction, according to a former top US trade official. Charlene Barshefsky, the lawyer who negotiated China's entry into the World Trade Organisation (WTO) during the Clinton administration, said China was increasingly playing the role of scapegoat in the minds of Americans, who see a flood of imports from China as a threat to their jobs. 'Trade friction between the US and China will increase before it will decrease,' she said after addressing an economic conference in Beijing. She cited several areas that were becoming flashpoints in the economic and trade relations between the two countries. China's exports are mainly in manufactured goods, an area where there are the most concerns over job losses in the US, even though many jobs have disappeared for reasons other than import competition. In addition, a lot of Chinese-made goods that are exported to the US tend to be highly visible to consumers, including products such as baby clothes, tableware and mobile phones. 'They see an everyday item and they ask, 'Why does this say made in China'?' Ms Barshefsky said. The debate about outsourcing white-collar jobs had only heightened the worries. 'All of these factors are producing an anxious American public,' the former trade representative said. She warned that China's drive to get rid of its designation as a non-market economy could exacerbate already fractious trade relations because it could push American corporations to use the courts to attack China. Currently, China - as with all countries - faces anti-dumping lawsuits, but as a non-market economy, it is not subject to lawsuits on subsidies. That would change if it was treated as a market economy. 'You could end up with dumping penalties and subsidy penalties on imports in a sector under legal attack,' she said. This year's presidential election was adding to the frayed nerves between the two nations. 'The rhetoric is worse now. But I think after the elections there will still be a problem.'