A trade pact sought by the United States, Japan and other Asia-Pacific nations would be "incomplete" in the long term without China, a top Chinese official said on Wednesday.
Beijing is currently not at the table with the 12 nations negotiating the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) deal, but China's Vice Finance Minister Zhu Guangyao said it would be lacking without China's vast economy.
"We want to see the real development of the TPP here," Zhu said at an event hosted by a U.S. think tank. "We want to see the Chinese economy more integrated with the global system."
The TPP would establish a free-trade bloc stretching from Vietnam to Chile and Japan, encompassing about 800 million people and almost 40 percent of the global economy.
Washington has said other countries, including potentially China, could join the TPP once the deal between current negotiating partners wraps up. But newcomers will have to meet high standards on issues like intellectual property rights, which are already an issue in U.S.-China trade.
Washington and Beijing are already major trade partners and hope to strike a bilateral investment deal that would also facilitate more business between the two countries. Currently the two sides are hashing out lists of which industries would remain off limits to foreign investments.
Zhu said this was a difficult process for China, but he was optimistic a deal could be reached.
"For China, to be honest, we face a real challenge domestically to cut the long list of the negative to the short (list) but we understand this is needed," he said.
Washington wants China to narrow the list in order to open up access to more areas of its strictly controlled economy, a process it argues will help drive economic reforms in the Asian giant.
Zhu was in Washington for the fall meetings of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank.