EU trade commissioner Peter Mandelson on Thursday (June 8) called on China to do more to clamp down on music, movie and software piracy, warning the country would face a backlash in Europe unless it d

EU trade commissioner Peter Mandelson on Thursday (June 8) called on China to do more to clamp down on music, movie and software piracy, warning the country would face a backlash in Europe unless it did more to "apply rather than circumvent the rules."

Speaking in Beijing, Mandelson said protection of intellectual property rights was at the heart of relations between the EU and China, which enjoyed a €210 billion ($268 billion) trade relationship last year. "Developing more robust IPR protection will also help China develop her own brands and patents in the future," he said. He also agreed with Chinese commerce minister Bo Xilai to work together to open new centers in China to monitor and enforce IPR compliance.

China is a rich source of pirate and counterfeit DVDs, CDs, software and other goods often dominated by criminal organizations. European and U.S. firms have long complained about the volume of pirated goods on sale in China. Despite a number of crackdowns by the Chinese government, counterfeit goods are still widely available in the country.

China should mete out "exemplary" sentences against major offenders to show it was serious about curtailing intellectual property theft, Mandelson said today. "I want the Chinese authorities to enforce IPR law more effectively, more speedily," he said. "I want to see the judicial system tackling intellectual property crime, and handing out some exemplary sentences so that those engaged in theft on a grand scale will get the idea that the government really means business."

Mandelson said that China's inexorable economic rise also implied taking certain responsibilities. During his June 5-9 tour of Guangzhou, Shenzhen and Beijing, he said that China would only continue to enjoy its strong growth rates if it met western demands for fair competition and responsible business. "The more the Chinese door swings open and the world sees a responsible China playing by the rules, the more our citizens will be able to understand our shared interest in deepening our relationship," he said. "I am increasingly concerned that this will only be achieved if China shows greater urgency in playing her part."

Beijing says it has 300,000 people devoted to stopping product piracy. It announced in April the opening of a 50-city network of intellectual property enforcement offices.

The counterfeit goods trade in the EU is estimated to be worth around €400 billion ($511 billion) annually, with DVDs, CDs, and cassettes representing about a third of all items seized by EU authorities. China is currently the fourth biggest supplier to Europe of the pirated DVDs, CDs and cassettes (after Thailand, Malaysia and Pakistan), accounting for an estimated 8% of seizures.

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