China and the United States have signed additional business agreements valued at $250bn during President Donald Trump’s visit to Beijing, though some were less than binding commercial contracts.

The agreements signed at a ceremony attended by Mr Trump and his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping, included sales of US-made chipsets, jet engines and auto parts.

Such contract signings are a fixture of visits to Beijing by foreign leaders and are intended to defuse foreign complaints about China’s trade policies.

Many of the contracts signed appeared to represent purchases Chinese mobile phone makers, airlines and other customers would have made anyway that were saved for signing during Mr Trump’s visit.

Others included a cooperation framework on shale gas and a memorandum of understanding on industrial development.

Mr Trump has ratcheted up his criticism of China’s massive trade surplus with the United States – calling it “embarrassing” and “horrible” last week – and has accused Beijing of unfair trade practices, fuelling worries of increased tension between the world’s two largest trading countries. 

Mr Trump vowed to change “one-sided and unfair” trade relations with China but said he does not blame Beijing for taking advantage of the US in the past.

The US President said trade between the US and China has not been “very fair” for the US and cited the large trade deficit between the two global powers.

Mr Trump said called for immediate action on “the unfair trade practices” that drive the deficit along with barriers to market access and the theft of intellectual property.

His Chinese counterpart said Beijing believes cooperation between the two countries is the “only correct choice” and that relations between the sides have entered a new historic starting point.

Several corporate CEOs are in Beijing as part of a delegation led by US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross.

Some in the US business community have expressed worry that contract wins could come at the expense of resolving long-standing complaints over market access restrictions in China.

“This shows that we have a strong, vibrant bilateral economic relationship, and yet we still need to focus on levelling the playing field because US companies continue to be disadvantaged doing business in China,” said William Zarit, chairman of the American Chamber of Commerce in China.

Mr Trump railed against China’s trade practices during the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign and threatened to take action once in office. But he has since held back on any major trade penalties, making clear he was doing so to give Beijing time to make progress reining in North Korea.

Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report