After a two-week crackdown by Chinese officials that resulted in the closing of 15 notorious pirate compact disc factories, the United States on Monday withdrew threatened sanctions against $2 billion worth of products made in China, averting a trade war between the two countries.
“We have determined that important actions have been taken” by the Chinese government, acting U.S. Trade Representative Charlene Barshefsky said in Beijing. “As a result, sanctions will not be imposed.”
After 14 months of wrangling with the Beijing regime over rampant piracy of music CDs, laser discs and computer software products, the United States broke no new ground in its negotiations from provisions it had already obtained in a 1995 Intellectual Property Rights Enforcement Agreement.
In fact, the threat of sanctions, high-profile negotiations and last-minute plant closings by the Chinese government were a virtual replay of the February 1995 talks that resulted in the IPR accord. On the eve of that agreement, the Chinese government announced the closing of two plants, at least one of which later reopened.
One of the patterns of U.S.-China talks on copyright piracy has been a last-minute flurry of enforcement activity by Chinese authorities as negotiators arrive in Beijing for a final round of talks.
But Barshefsky said the U.S. officials came away from this year’s talks convinced China has very recently taken “concrete and tangible actions” to comply with the previous agreement.
Moreover, she said China was much more receptive this go-round to providing market access to U.S. entertainment companies.