Chinese intellectual property officials rejected US criticism of Beijing's anti-piracy efforts, insisting Tuesday they are cracking down and saying countries such as Canada are worse offenders.
Speaking at a news conference, the officials criticized a new US complaint to the World Trade Organization over Chinese piracy and appealed for more cooperation and dialogue.
"The Chinese government has made tremendous efforts and taken a lot of steps to protect intellectual property rights," said Yi Xintian, a spokesman for the State Intellectual Property Office.
The dispute over whether Beijing is doing enough to stop piracy of movies, music and other goods is fueling US-Chinese tensions ahead of a May meeting of a high-level dialogue on trade disputes.
American officials complain that Chinese piracy is costing legitimate producers tens of billions of dollars in potential sales.
Washington's WTO complaint accuses Beijing of violating its trade commitments by failing to do enough to protect copyrights, trademarks and other intellectual property.
Music, movie and other industry groups say that despite more active Chinese policing, piracy is growing faster than enforcement amid a rapid economic expansion.
Wang Ziqiang, a spokesman for the National Copyright Administration, argued that other countries such as Canada have more serious piracy problems.
He cited a February report by the US-based International Intellectual Property Alliance that put annual losses to piracy in Canada at US$16.78 per person, while the figure for China was US$1.68.
"Piracy and (trademark and copyright) infringement are global issues that cannot be resolved overnight," Wang said.
The officials said the scale of Chinese enforcement is growing, with 235 criminal cases taken to court last year and 73 million DVDs, books and other products destroyed.
They rejected suggestions that Chinese limits on imports of books and movies is driving demand for pirated copies. A second US complaint to the WTO last week said Beijing has failed to live up to promises to remove restrictions the import and distribution of books, newspapers, magazines, CDs, DVDs and video games.
US industry groups say the lack of legitimate products is feeding Chinese demand for pirated movies, music and other goods.
"I don't think it is a good argument that restrictions on imports of books and audio-video products led to rampant piracy," Wang said.