Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Trade and Dialogue with China

There are reports in the press today about the US complaint to the WTO over rampant piracy of US movies in China. For years video shops in every city in China, located on just about every corner, have stocked thousands of pirated DVDs for sale at the equivalent of $1 each. It has been an on-going issue in US-China relations for well-nigh 20 years. The US estimates the trade loss to them of this one thing at about $2 billion a year now. The Chinese Government response to this is interesting. Tian Lipu, head of their "Intellectual Property Office" said: "It's not a sensible move for the U.S. government to file such a complaint. To do a better job in combating piracy, we need dialogue and cooperation, not confrontation and condemnation." So it seems that "dialogue" as a device to placate the foreigners' concerns is not just a technique applied to our human rights concerns, but as a general principle. The evidence indicates that fruitless "dialogue" can put us off the CCP's case for years. Of course whenever there is a DVD in distribution that shows video of a political nature, such as foreign documentaries about June '89 (these are needless to say of very high interest in China), those are off the market and the shop keepers who dare sell them in the hands of the Chinese police faster than you can utter the words "confrontation and condemnation". There is not much dialogue and cooperation going on between the concerned parties in that case.

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