Does China Mean It?

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After belatedly bowing to international pressure to stop its nuclear testing, China is showing signs of giving ground on copyright piracy, its surliest trade dispute with the U.S. Unless Beijing cracks down on pirated products, as it promised to do under an international accord in 1995, the U.S. will impose record trade sanctions on $2 billion worth of Chinese clothing and electronic goods by June 17. Acting U.S. Trade Representative Charlene Barshefsky said Tuesday that that China has closed some factories that were producing pirated computer programs, movies and music, but that Beijing must take "further concrete and verifiable action to reduce piracy at its source and at its borders." In an exclusive interview Tuesday with TIME editors, new Secretary of Commerce Mickey Kantor, who until recently held the U.S. trade post, said the factory closings may be just a fillip. "I am somewhat skeptical. They have opened and closed plants many times. We have to be realistic given China's situation internally, and that they have investors. But the Chinese knew that when they signed the (copyright) agreement 14 months ago." The Clinton Administration's tough talk and Beijing's good behavior come as both seek renewed congressional approval for China's Most Favored Nation trading status, which permits it the same low tariffs as other major U.S. trading partners. -->