CHINA'S insistence on being categorised as a developing country in its attempt to re-join the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) is misleading because parts of its economy are highly advanced, Washington's top Asia policy maker said yesterday. Winston Lord, Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs, said: ''The basic issue here is to what extent is China a developing country and to what extent is it an advanced, developed country? ''The honest answer is that it lies somewhere in between. Obviously, in some ways, China is still a developing country.'' Mr Lord said the United States recognised that within GATT, China had the right in some areas to a transition period before it could fulfil its obligations. But he added that in many ways China was already an economic powerhouse. ''China currently exports a lot to the US as well as to other countries. And we are probably going to have a US$30 billion trade deficit with China for this year.'' He said it was therefore misleading to suggest that China was like any other developing country and that it should qualify for all the exemptions accorded to developing countries. ''So we have to strike a balance,'' he said, adding that Japan and European GATT member states shared Washington's view. Mr Lord said that Japan and the European members of GATT had remained silent on the China issue, leaving Washington to speak out and, in turn, face criticism for its openness. He said: ''This is not just our view but the view of other countries which are members of GATT.'' Mr Lord said the US did not oppose China rejoining GATT or its future membership in the World Trade Organisation. But he added that China had obligations to fulfil like any other country seeking GATT membership. ''We welcome China,'' he said. ''We also believe that it is in China's own interest as well as GATT's interest that China meet certain criteria that all other nations must meet when they seek to join GATT.'' He said there was no political dimension to the issue. ''This is strictly a matter of honest assessment of what should be required in terms of admission to GATT, given China's status and its size.'' China has complained that the US is blocking its entry into GATT by insisting that China be given the status of a developed country. Chinese Deputy Minister of Foreign Trade Long Yongtu has said China will not seek membership at any cost or sacrifice its fundamental interests while arguing for special dispensations on its balance of payments. Mr Lord said that the US had been working hard to facilitate China's entry into GATT. He said: ''We have been negotiating very seriously with the Chinese and within this calendar year I expect negotiations to intensify. ''We work very hard and as fast as we can to to see whether China can meet the standards required.'' The US has been pressuring China to further open its markets to US goods and to increase the enforcement and protection of intellectual copyrights and patents.