YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections

China Says Atmosphere Positive for Trade Negotiations With U.S.

June 13, 1996|From Reuters

BEIJING — China said Wednesday that the atmosphere is positive for talks to avert a trade war with the United States over copyright piracy, and the acting U.S. trade representative announced she will participate in the negotiations.

"The current atmosphere for talks is positive," top negotiator Zhang Yuejiao of the Ministry of Foreign Trade and Economic Cooperation said in a telephone interview just five days before the deadline for retaliatory sanctions.

"Both sides are making efforts to avert the trade war," she said amid a flurry of reports on official Chinese actions to eradicate theft of intellectual property.

In Washington, acting U.S. Trade Representative Charlene Barshefsky announced she would leave for Beijing today.

"We have confirmed that the Chinese are engaged in efforts to close pirate CD factories," she said. "Exactly how many factories have been closed and will be closed remains the subject of our verification efforts on the ground and our continued talks with the Chinese.

"It remains to be seen whether the Chinese effort in this and other areas is sufficient to meet the terms of our agreement," she said. "I also want to ensure that there is an enforcement system in place to crack down on intellectual property piracy in the future."

China's Propaganda Department and the Press and Publications Administration has ordered a crackdown on unauthorized compact disc producers, closures of those already in operation and punishment for officials who illegally approved the ventures.

China would not approve any new compact disc factories, the official New China News Agency quoted the order as saying.

Some local governments had approved compact disc plants in defiance of an April edict demanding a reduction in production and this had helped boost copyright piracy, it said.

The latest concession was aimed at combating recent chaos in setting up new CD plants, officials said.

Zhang said the onus was on the United States, which is set to hit $2 billion worth of Chinese imports with punitive duties June 17 unless Beijing acts to halt copyright piracy.

China has vowed to retaliate with sanctions on U.S. goods.

"Just like the Chinese proverb goes, 'Let him who tied the bell on the tiger take it off,' " Zhang said. "Whoever started the trouble should end it. . . . The United States made China the target of its sanctions."

Zhang is to meet Assistant U.S. Trade Representative Lee Sands for two days of formal talks Thursday and Friday in Beijing to try to reach agreement before the retaliatory sanctions take effect.

"The Chinese government hopes the two sides would settle the [intellectual property rights] issue as early as possible through consultations," New China said.

Zhang urged the U.S. side to adopt a "fair and objective" attitude in the formal talks that follow two days of inconclusive, informal negotiations last week.

The United States is demanding "concrete and verifiable" steps by China to boost enforcement against copyright pirates in line with an 11th-hour agreement reached in February 1995 that averted a similar threatened trade war.

U.S. officials have said they are looking to China to step up enforcement at its borders to prevent export of pirated goods and open its markets to more legitimate products.

Beijing was determined to battle intellectual property theft but was not ready to accede to U.S. demands for joint ventures on cultural products, such as films and books, Zhang said.

"We won't accept any unreasonable demands," she told China Daily. "There is no room for bargaining. Our law does not permit this and it goes beyond the bilateral agreement."

Beijing has repeatedly warned Washington that trade conflict would harm U.S. interests in China, but has mixed the rhetoric with raids on pirate audio-visual plants that the U.S. industry says cost it an estimated $2.3 billion a year in lost earnings.

Southwestern Guangxi province had banned the operation of 52 laser disc mini-movie theaters and 111 public video arcades as part of a local crackdown on piracy and pornography, New China said.

Los Angeles Times Articles