US President George W. Bush's administration wants China to crack down on the rampant piracy of US movies, music and computer programs and will not be satisfied until copyright violators get stiff prison sentences, Commerce Secretary Donald Evans said.
Evans, who was leaving on his fourth and final trip to China as a member of Bush's Cabinet yesterday, said in an interview that he wanted to learn firsthand what China was doing to fulfill promises to better enforce its intellectual property laws.
Chinese Vice Premier Wu Yi (
The Motion Picture Association estimates that its members lost up to US$3.5 billion last year from movie pirates. China is considered the second worst offender behind Russia.
Evans said even though the Chinese government had committed to specific steps to combat piracy, the US was concerned about the lack of significant criminal prosecutions.
He said the administration wants to see "jail time and tough criminal actions against those responsible for the thefts. ... We haven't seen enough evidence that this is happening yet."
Evans said he would emphasize this point during meetings with Chinese leaders and in a speech on Thursday at an intellectual property conference in Beijing.
During Bush's second term, the US will keep the pressure on China to abide by the market-opening commitments it made upon joining the WTO, Evans said.
That effort, he said, will continue under Carlos Gutierrez, the president's nominee for commerce secretary. The head of cereal giant Kellogg is awaiting Senate approval to take over for Evans. Evans said in November he was leaving the Cabinet to return to Texas.
Gutierrez told lawmakers last week that the administration intended to press China to narrow the trade gap with the US. That imbalance hit US$124 billion in 2003, a record for any US trading partner, and widened last year.
Critics of the administration's trade policies contend that Bush has not done enough to protect US workers from unfair trade practices in other nations.