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China Says It Has Closed More Disc Plants

Trade: Announcement comes before another round of talks with U.S. and is seen as an attempt to avert a trade war.

June 10, 1996|From Reuters

BEIJING — China on Sunday trumpeted the recent shutdown of plants that had been making illegal video and laser discs. The announcement came before a new round of copyright talks with the United States this week that are aimed at averting a trade war over piracy.

Public security officers in southern Guangdong province detained 11 people who are suspects, stopped video compact disc lines that were producing items illegally and seized more than 40,000 video discs in one raid on May 30, the official New China News Agency said.

On June 5, police raided another video and laser disc plant, in Guangdong's Guizhou town, saying it was illegally processing and packaging video and laser discs, New China said.

Washington and Beijing have announced tit-for-tat sanctions that would take effect June 17 should the two sides fail to agree on a U.S. demanding the shutdown of all Chinese businesses producing, selling or exporting pirated music and video tapes, compact discs and software.

Assistant U.S. Trade Representative Lee Sands ended two days of talks in Beijing on Friday without a deal to avert what would be a multibillion-dollar trade war, but U.S. officials said a new round of formal discussions will take place this week.

The U.S. embassy described last week's talks as frank and providing a "useful foundation" for the next round, but it gave no details about when the new discussions would begin or where they would take place.

Beijing has repeatedly warned Washington that a trade conflict would harm U.S. interests in China, and has mixed the tough rhetoric with sporadic announcements of raids on pirate audiovisual plants.

U.S. industry estimates that such piracy costs it $2.3 billion a year.

The closure of the manufacturing lines in booming southern Guangdong constituted a "major crackdown on the infringement of intellectual property rights," New China said.

The May 30 raid was directed at video disc lines at the Jinxing Magnetic Electric Appliances Plant and Chaoyang City Xiashan Guanchang Electronics Co. in Guangdong's Chaoyang city, the agency said.

In Guizhou town, police raided video and laser disc packing and processing site run by Guizhou Town Weifa Industrial Co. that had illegally produced more than 110,000 discs since last October at a profit of $17,000.

The president of the company was detained and is being investigated, New China said.

Chinese officials said last week that they were considering going after three more pirate compact disc plants.

Guangdong, near the border with Hong Kong, is considered a hotbed of such plants.

In February 1995, China and the United States reached an 11th-hour accord on copyright protection that narrowly averted a trade war similar to the one that looms now.

The U.S. wants China to close compact disc plants that use pirated software, to tighten customs controls to prevent exports of pirated goods and to give U.S. music, film and computer software companies greater access to the Chinese market.

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