The New York Times, citing a person familiar with the talks, said the offer came during a recent meeting in Beijing between Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and the Chinese economic adviser Liu He, who would go only partway toward President Trump's initial demand that China reduce its $375.2 billion trade surplus with the United States by $200 billion annually.
The offer leaves untouched other American requests, including that China allow American companies more access to its markets and end practices that the Trump administration and business executives say force companies to transfer valuable intellectual property.
The proposal could fizzle quickly. Chinese officials have said publicly that any agreements would be void if the United States continued with plans to impose tariffs and other restrictions, and American officials have given no indication so far that they intend to halt the tariffs.
The White House press secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, would not comment on whether the Chinese proposal would pass muster with Mr Trump, saying that 'we're in the negotiation process' and that 'our focus is to make sure we get good deals.'
The White House has said the levies will go into effect shortly after a list of affected products is published by June 15, and that restrictions on Chinese investment in the United States will follow, shortly after they are announced by June 30.
Those plans have led to a bitter turf war within the administration as officials try to reach a deal with China that would allow Mr Trump to claim victory in a brewing trade dispute.