Donald Trump's commerce secretary has told Australian businesses America is much more important to them than China.
"We are Australia's most important economic partner," Wilbur Ross told industry leaders in Sydney on Thursday.
"China may import more from Australia than the United States does, but their value-add to the Australian economy - and to the lives of Australians - is shockingly limited."
He pointed out American firms account for more than a quarter of foreign investment down under, employing more than 400,000 Australians.
In contrast, China represents less than two per cent of foreign investment and directly employs 2000 Australians.
The Trump administration has taken exception to China's trade practices and the enormous trade deficit the US has with the Asian powerhouse.
It has hit China with a series of tariffs, and the rolling dispute has alarmed Australian politicians as it threatens the global economy.
Mr Ross again outlined the American concerns, including forced technology transfers, cyber attacks, intellectual property theft, and subsidies to state-owned enterprises.
But he said the US wasn't outright opposed to trade with China, with the two parties returning to the negotiating table this week.
"If we can get China to abide by the global rules of trade, every nation in the world will benefit," he said.
Australian Associated Press