China’s mad

Scott Jagow Apr 10, 2007

TEXT OF INTERVIEW

SCOTT JAGOW: The conversation between the U.S. and China over piracy has gone something like this:

U.S.: Please stop your people from stealing our movies and music and software.

China: Well, we are taking steps.

U.S.: OK, but people are still selling this stuff in broad daylight.

China: Have patience. We’re taking steps.

Apparently the U.S. is tired of talking. Today, it filed two complaints with the World Trade Organization, complaining about piracy in China. We called up Daniel Sharf, a freelance journalist in Beijing.

DANIEL SHARF: If the Chinese government really wants to fix a problem like this it would be a fairly easy thing to do. You can see a lot of these shops operating very openly, selling pirated products, fake DVDs and so forth. They can very easily walk in there and shut them down. The problem is that they’re not interested in shutting down a lot of the, what they are referred to as small fish. They’re wanting to hit the manufacturers, producers whenever they know about them. The problem is that it becomes a cost of doing business. You slap a fine on them and they pay the fine and they keep making a lot of money.

JAGOW: Do you have a sense though, working there, that China really has tried to do something about piracy?

SHARF: The problem is they’re moving slowly and they’re moving slower than the U.S. wants them to move. They’re moving slower than a lot of European want them to move. One of the things that the Chinese government is very concerned about is sudden changes, especially when it comes to the economy, which the government relies on and the Chinese Communist Party relies on for its legitimacy.

JAGOW: Journalist Daniel Sharf in Beijing. Today, the Chinese government said it was very upset about the WTO complaints. China said this would seriously damage trade relations with the U.S.

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