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US Eager for Quick Success by Filing WTO Piracy Case
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By Cheng Zhiliang

The United States said Monday it was filing a case on intellectual property rights (IPR) against China with the World Trade Organization (WTO), seeking quick success and instant interests with a blind eye to facts and China's efforts.

The U.S. move is not a sensible one since it ignored facts including the following aspects: IPR protection takes time worldwide, not to say in the world's most populous country; China's immense efforts in strengthening IPR protection; China's willingness to cooperate in this regard.

Piracy is a worldwide issue that has been existing for decades not only in developing countries but also in developed ones. It is reported some American citizens came to China to produce counterfeits and sell them in the United States, and it is also common for global computer users to download protected software, movies and music from the Internet for free.

Western countries took two centuries to achieve the current level on IPR protection and it became obviously unfair to demand that China, which became a WTO member in December 2001, accomplish the mission within years, said Ma Xiushan, vice secretary general of the China Intellectual Property Society.

Citing an example, Ma said that the US publishers paid no royalty to British writer Charles Dickens in the early years after the United States was founded.

Other countries need to give China credit for its hard and effective work on copyright protection, said Geoffrey Yu, deputy director general of the World Intellectual Property Organization, at a forum in Beijing last year.

"I also realize it's a very big country with a huge population, so the situation is complex and needs special attention," the official added.

In fact, China has exerted immense efforts on IPR protection.

China's top court lowered the threshold to prosecute people who manufacture or sell counterfeit intellectual property products on April 5, stipulating that anyone who manufactures 500 or more counterfeit copies (discs) of software and audio-video products can be prosecuted and faces a prison term of up to three years.

The threshold for a "serious IPR offender" was lowered from 5,000 counterfeit copies in 2004 to 2,500, and the punishment for a serious IPR offender may be up to seven years in prison.

Earlier, more than 1.81 million pirated CDs and DVDs were seized in a production factory in Guangzhou, capital of south China's Guangdong Province on March 17, in the largest single crackdown on CD and DVD piracy in the country's history.

Thirty production machines in 11 warehouses were confiscated and 13 people arrested.

It is a pity that Max Baucus, Democratic chairman of the US Senate's powerful finance committee, said "rampant and large-scale piracy and counterfeiting in China have persisted too long, and China is not penalizing pirates and counterfeiters", according to a report by AFP on Monday.

By filing against China with the WTO, the United States has ignored the Chinese government's efforts and great achievements in strengthening IPR protection and tightening enforcement of its copyright laws, said Tian Lipu, commissioner of the Intellectual Property Office of China on Tuesday.

The latest move reminds people of the incident in late March when the U.S. government imposed penalty tariffs on the imports of Chinese coated free sheet paper.

The U.S. decision altered a 23-year old bipartisan policy of not applying the countervailing duty (CVD) law to China, which "goes against the consensus reached between leaders of the two countries to resolve contradictions through dialogue," responded the Chinese government.

Global business activities have kept growing after China's entry into the WTO, while trade frictions between China and some of its trade partners, especially Europe and the United States, are also on the rise, Chinese Commerce Minister Bo Xilai said in March.

China prefers to resort to consultations for the settlement of trade frictions with its trade partners, Bo said.

The US filing on piracy against China with the WTO might also cast a shadow on bilateral trade relations, while officials from both sides are preparing for the second round of China-US Strategic Economic Dialogue slated for May in Washington.

The last round of Dialogue ended last December in Beijing with "a number of consensus", hailed by both sides.

(Xinhua News Agency April 11, 2007)

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