The US trade deficit with China is ballooning at a "clearly unsustainable" level, a senior US Commerce Department official told a US congressional commission set up to tackle the problem. Henry Levine, the deputy assistant secretary of commerce for Asia-Pacific policy, was speaking to the US-China Economic and Security Review Commission during a hearing over the rising US deficit and Beijing's alleged manipulation of its currency value. Earlier, commission member George Becker said the trade deficit in 2004 would hit US$161bn and could "double or triple within three to five years." Levine said the United States would not be able to support such growth. Members of the commission are hoping to take tough measures against China to rein in the deficit, citing China's exchange rate advantage, violations of intellectual property rights and weak record of compliance with World Trade Organization obligations.