China's Ministry of Commerce (MOC) on Thursday said exclusionism should not be pursued in free trade deals.
The remarks were made with regards to a provision in a new trade agreement reached by the United States, Mexico and Canada.
"The principle of openness and inclusion should be upheld [in establishing free trade areas], while other members' capacity for external relations should not be restricted. There should be no exclusionism," said MOC spokesperson Gao Feng at a press conference.
He was commenting on a provision in the new "United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement," which stipulates that if a member country wants to enter a free trade deal with a "non-market" economy, it must notify the others three months before starting negotiations, while the others can quit within six months to form their own bilateral trade pact.
"Clauses on the so-called 'non-market' economies do not exist in the World Trade Organization's multilateral trade rules. They are only included in certain members' domestic laws," Gao said. "China opposes the practice of placing domestic laws above international laws and imposing one country's will on others."
"A country should attract trade partners with factors such as market potential and policy environment, based on the principle of mutual respect, equal negotiation and mutual benefits.
"We believe that every economy enjoys autonomy in developing foreign trade relations and will value their trade ties with China in line with their demand for mutually beneficial cooperation."
Gao said the most important thing for China is to follow its own path and do its own job.
"The country will continue to press ahead with supply-side structural reform and optimize its regional, industrial and product structures to push for high-quality development," he said.
"China will continue to firmly support trade liberalization and facilitation and back the multilateral trading system, and work with trade partners to make the global trade mechanism fairer and more equitable."