BEIJING -- Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez said Tuesday that he will push China to continue opening its markets and at the same time ask authorities to crack down on rampant counterfeiting of American goods, especially movies and music.

Such moves "could help close the trade gap between our countries," he told Chinese and U.S. officials at a high-level discussion on piracy. Gutierrez was in Beijing to pressure local officials on measures that might help reduce the massive trade deficit the U.S. has with China.

In October, China's trade surplus with the U.S. was roughly $23 billion. JPMorgan cautioned in a report earlier this week that the surplus is likely to spiral even higher, helped along by demand for Chinese-made goods leading up to Christmas.

"The huge and growing surplus is likely to intensify trade frictions and protectionist initiatives against China's exports, especially in the U.S. and the European Union ," JPMorgan said.

Gutierrez said that China has exacerbated the frustration over the trade deficit by allowing widespread theft of intellectual property to persist. "Those who espouse protectionism as a legitimate economic policy have a loud voice," he said.

Last year, exasperated U.S. officials threatened to take China before the World Trade Organization unless it improves enforcement of antipiracy laws. Asked to comment on the likelihood of such an event, Gutierrez struck a diplomatic note before an audience of reporters, saying the "preference is to resolve these issues through dialogue."