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China Silent on Offer to Continue Trade Talks

From Reuters

A damaging U.S.-China trade war moved a step closer Sunday when China failed to respond to a U.S. offer to continue talks, just a week before a Washington-imposed deadline expires.

The U.S. negotiating team left Beijing Sunday after nine days of talks with the Chinese on protecting U.S. copyrights, trademarks and patents. Members did not issue a statement or give a news conference, a U.S. Embassy spokesman said. “No further meetings are planned,” he said, “but the door is open.” The talks ended Saturday without agreement.

In Washington, U.S. Trade Representative Mickey Kantor told reporters Saturday that he had invited China to continue negotiations in Washington before the Feb. 4 deadline.

“If there is not agreement by Feb. 4, I will authorize publication of a final list of Chinese imports that will be subject to 100% tariffs, with a value from $1 billion to well over $2 billion,” he said.

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A Ministry of Foreign Trade and Economic Relations official in Beijing said Sunday that it was not clear whether China would send a negotiating team to Washington.

China blamed the United States for the talks’ failure but left the door open for further negotiations.

“In the talks, the China side exerted its greatest efforts and displayed great flexibility, enabling the talks to make constructive progress,” the People’s Daily said Sunday. “But because the U.S. side put forward one demand after another, raising issues far beyond the scope of the intellectual-property rights, the talks were not resolved successfully. For this, we express the greatest regret.”

China does not want to see a trade war, the paper said, but if the United States takes punitive measures, then China will retaliate.

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A spokesman for the Foreign Trade Ministry said he hopes that the United States will reconsider its stance on the issue.

“We still hope that the two sides will adopt positive measures and settle the intellectual-property disputes at an early date through equal and friendly consultations,” the official New China News Agency quoted the spokesman as saying.

Washington and industry leaders say Chinese factories are flooding Asia with bootleg laser and compact disc copies of U.S. music and films worth hundreds of millions of dollars.

China Saturday ordered new moves to crush bootlegging operations. The State Copyright Administration, in a decree reported in the People’s Daily, said enterprises wanting to sell foreign recordings must register in advance from Feb. 1 and show valid contracts with copyright owners or face fines and other punishment.

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Chinese customs figures show a growing trade surplus with the United States. China posted a surplus of $7.49 billion in 1994, up from $6.28 billion in 1993.


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