Hu promises Bush that China will step up fight against product piracy

China's President Hu Jintao on Sunday promised visiting U.S. President George W. Bush that China will step up its fight against rampant counterfeiting of foreign movies, designer clothes and other goods.

The issue is one of the most sensitive in U.S.-Chinese trade relations. Washington has suggested China might face sanctions in the World Trade Organization if it isn't stopped.

"I made it clear to the president that the Chinese side is willing to step up its protection of intellectual property rights, enhance its efforts in fighting crimes involving the violations of intellectual property rights and stands ready to increase its cooperation with the United States," Hu told reporters after the two leaders met.

China is regarded as a leading source of counterfeit goods, ranging from music and clothes to sporting goods and medicines, despite repeated official promises to crack down on the problem.

U.S. officials say Chinese counterfeits cost legitimate producers up to US$50 billion (Ђ40 billion) a year in lost potential sales.

China has repeatedly launched crackdowns, but foreign officials say that they see little improvement _ and that the problem might be getting worse.

U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who was traveling with Bush, said the discussion Sunday was more detailed and specific than previous Chinese comments about fighting theft of copyrights and other intellectual piracy.

"They went to great lengths to talk about prosecutions, about some potential organizational changes that they might make inside the country to make it easier to prosecute cases of piracy," Rice told reporters.

"I have to say that having sat through, now, four or five years of these discussions, that the discussion on intellectual property rights was much more detailed, much more specific about steps that China might take," Rice said, AP reported. V.A.

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