U.S., China Narrow Differences on Piracy, Official Says

From Associated Press

The United States and China have narrowed their differences over piracy of American products, but China must act against major offenders to avert trade sanctions, a senior U.S. trade official said Monday.

China offered a new proposal last month, days before Washington gave Beijing until Feb. 4 to act or face punitive tariffs, the official told reporters. The proposal marks a clear step forward on the part of the Chinese, said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

U.S. and Chinese negotiators will meet Wednesday through Friday to try to resolve the dispute.

The U.S. government says Chinese piracy of American computer software, music and movies is intolerable, and the United States has threatened to impose punitive tariffs on up to $2.8 billion in Chinese imports. China has said it would retaliate against sanctions.

Washington set the Feb. 4 deadline after talks between the two countries broke up in acrimony last month, with China accusing U.S. negotiators of making unreasonable demands and American officials saying China made no substantive concessions.

Before an agreement can be reached, China must shut at least one factory that makes pirated compact discs and take action to prosecute major offenders, the official said.

The United States is also demanding that China let customs officials seize and destroy pirated goods and make it simpler and cheaper for U.S. companies to sue pirates in Chinese courts. It further insists that China permit the sale of American movies, music, computer software and publications to remove the demand for pirated copies.

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