China's Premier Wen Jiabao expressed concern Friday about what he called "rising trade protectionism", which he said was hampering the global economic recovery.
"What is worrying is that... trade protectionism is rising sharply," Wen said in a televised speech. "Trade protectionism will only slow the pace of world economic recovery."
The Chinese leader made no specific mention of the United States, but his remarks followed passage by the US Senate of legislation aimed at punishing China for its alleged currency manipulation.
Some US lawmakers and officials say China's currency is undervalued, giving the country an unfair trade advantage by making its exports cheap.
The politically sensitive US trade deficit with China rose to a record level of $29 billion in August, the US Commerce Department said Thursday. The figures are likely to fuel allegations China keeps its currency artificially weak.
Wen, who was speaking at a trade fair in the southern city of Guangzhou, said countries should be "rational" in dealing with trade disputes.
"The shadow of an international financial crisis could be removed as soon as possible... only if we properly handle international trade friction in a more rational way," he said.
Although leaders in the US House of Representatives have signalled they would block the currency bill -- meaning it will not become law -- anti-China sentiment is on the rise ahead US elections in November 2012.