"U.S.-China economic ties have expanded substantially over the past several years. Total U.S.-China trade, which totaled only $5 billion in 1980, rose to $285 billion in 2005. China is now the third largest U.S. trading partner, its second largest source of imports, and its fourth largest export market. With a huge population and a rapidly expanding economy, China is becoming a large market for U.S. exporters. Yet, U.S.-China commercial ties have been strained by a number of issues, including a surging U.S. trade deficit with China (which totaled $202 billion in 2005), China's refusal to float its currency, and lax protection of U.S. intellectual property rights (IPR). […] China joined the World Trade Organization (WTO) in 2001, and U.S. officials continue to closely monitor China's compliance with its WTO commitments. A major concern to U.S. policymakers regarding China's WTO commitments has been its failure to implement an effective strategy to combat widespread IPR piracy in China. Although China has enacted a number of strict IPR laws and regulations, U.S. firms charge that enforcement is lax and ineffective and costs U.S. firms billions of dollars in lost sales annually. On October 26, 2005, the United States initiated a special process under WTO rules to obtain detailed information on China's IPR enforcement efforts. If China fails to comply with this request, the United States might choose to bring a dispute resolution case against it in the WTO. In addition, on March 30, 2006, the United States initiated a WTO case against China over its discriminatory tax treatment of imported auto parts."
CRS Issue Brief for Congress, IB91121
United States. Department of State, Foreign Press Centers, Bureau of Public Affairs: http://www.fpc.state.gov/