China aims to double its level of imports in five years, its commerce minister said on Thursday, forecasting that U.S. exports to China would double
to $200 billion over the same period.

We expect import trade to double in the next five years, Commerce Minister Chen Deming told a news conference at the annual World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

China's trade surplus totalled $183.1 billion in 2010, narrowing for the second year running, data showed earlier this month, giving the world's second largest economy more excuse to allow the yuan to firm only gradually.

Chen said Beijing would continue to liberalise the yuan according to market needs. The chairman of China's largest lender also said Beijing wanted to import more to solve its trade imbalances instead of parking windfall revenues in U.S. and euro zone government bonds.

We're obliged to spend the money (in) U.S. bonds, etc. China also wants to change this kind of situation. We should import to balance our trade and increase our foreign investments, Jiang Jianqing, head of Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, said, speaking through a translator.

Beijing has let the yuan rise 3 percent against the dollar since mid-June, when it lifted the currency from a nearly two-year peg that cushioned the economy from the impact of the global financial crisis.

The United States argues that the yuan is kept relatively weak to give exporters an unfair advantage in selling their products to the world.