So the small victory President Donald Trump has won in the so-called "trade war" he initiated needs to be taken with a grain of salt.
The tensions reflect the dueling nationalistic ambitions of Trump and his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping.
The quarterly trade figures came alongside data showing China's exports declined unexpectedly in March, while imports grew more-than-expected.
China's global trade balance swung to a rare deficit in March as exports shrank but its surplus with the United States, the centre of a worsening dispute with Washington, stood at $15.4 billion.
Meanwhile, China's trade surplus with the 28-nation European Union, its biggest trading partner, shrank by half from the previous year to US$3.6 billion.
President John Heisdorffer today provided testimony before the House Committee on Ways and Means on the potential impact of Chinese tariffs on USA soybeans.
Against the backdrop of recent tensions, customs administration spokesman Huang Songping repeated China´s line that it is not looking for an advantage over its trading partners.
China will set up an global free trade zone and port on the island of Hainan, state radio said on Friday, citing President Xi Jinping, granting foreign firms greater economic freedom in the southernmost province.
"We hope that the U.S. will listen patiently to rational and pragmatic voices on the trade balance issue".
Heisdorffer, who farms in Keota, Iowa, highlighted the importance of maintaining China as a robust market for US soybean exports, and the lasting effects implemented tariffs and a trade war would have on soybean farmers.
He said he will reduce tariffs on cars imported into his country. China says the Taiwan Travel Act violates United States commitments not to restore formal exchanges severed when Washington switched diplomatic recognition from Taipei to Beijing in 1979.
"He's going to open it up, take down a lot of the trade barriers - maybe all of them - but take down a lot of trade barriers".
Before the White House announced on Tuesday that U.S. President Donald Trump made a decision to skip the summit to focus on Syria, a U.S. official told journalists he planned to argue that the United States should "remain the partner of choice" for Latin American countries.
Instead, the Trump administration wants Chinese leaders to address more basic structural issues that interfere with market forces, said the official.
"Most of (the March) drop is seasonal - Chinese New Year was later than usual this year, meaning more of the holiday disruptions will have dragged into March than in 2017", Capital Economics Senior China Economist Julian Evans-Pritchard wrote in a note.
"When you´re $500 billion down, you can´t lose a trade war", he said. Washington reports different figures that put the gap at a record $375.2 billion. "They are ready to pull the trigger", Salitsky pointed out.
The US has almost Dollars 500 billion trade deficit.