HONOLULU China will play by the rules of international agreements that it has been party to negotiating, a Chinese official said on Sunday.
His remarks were a clear rebuttal to U.S. President Barack Obama who earlier said that China must act like a "grown up" and play by the rules of the international community in economic affairs.
"First we have to know whose rules we are talking about," said Pang Sen, a deputy director-general at China's Foreign Ministry.
"If the rules are made collectively through agreement and China is a part of it, then China will abide by them. If rules are decided by one or even several countries, China does not have the obligation to abide by that," Pang said at a news conference after the APEC summit in Honolulu.
The United States frequently criticizes China for blocking fair access to its markets, for keeping its currency artificially undervalued and stealing intellectual property.
Pang also said that China would "earnestly study" the Trans Pacific Partnership trade negotiations, which Canada, Japan and Mexico have asked to join giving a major boost to the U.S.-led initiative.
He noted that APEC's stance last year was to support all paths toward deepening economic cooperation among the Asia-Pacific countries, including trade agreements in which China is involved.
"At this meeting, Japan has announced that it will join the negotiations and some of the member economies welcome that. Some other economies have expressed interest in joining the TPP negotiations. China will earnestly study this issue," he said.
The U.S.-led TPP talks include nine countries -- Australia, New Zealand, Vietnam, Singapore, Chile, Peru, Malaysia, Brunei.
It wants to reach a landmark deal that pushes forward market opening measures beyond those already agreed in international accords, whereas China has said it prefers to negotiate accords that meet World Trade Organization standards.