China is gaining in wealth by selling TV's, clothing etc. The US is getting consumables (generally going into debt to get them) that wear out in a few years at best
If we need to we can go to the story of the ant and the grasshopper
Trade between nations is generally no different then trade between two people.
We can sell each other stuff from now to the day we die, but if I go into ever increasing levels of debt to buy the stuff you are selling eventually I will go broke, while you of course will have had the opportunity to increase your wealth dramatically. That is the problem the US faces right now (along with the UK, Spain, the Baltics etc)
It is not that they traded with foreign countries, it is that they went into debt to buy the stuff from foreign countries. And the worst part is the stuff they bought was for consumption rather then to improve infrustructure or competitiveness. South Korea during the 90's had a significant trade deficit but used it to build its industrial capacity, not on cheap tv's and nike's