China has reported progress in its fight against counterfeit and shoddy consumer products. Officials, however, reject complaints that China is the world's leading producer of counterfeit goods.
Government inspectors say they have destroyed 3,500 tons of illegally imported meat products and captured nearly $240 million worth of counterfeit or shoddy goods so far this year.
But as officials presented the results of their anti-piracy efforts Thursday, they also rejected allegations from many countries that China is the world's leading producer of fake goods. Pu Changcheng, a vice minister with the State Administration of Quality, Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine, says officials do not have enough data on piracy because it is very difficult to determine where counterfeit goods originate.
China has initiated several campaigns aimed at protecting international property rights, or IPR, but Stuart Newman with the Foreign Trade Association in Brussels says more must be done.
"The penalties for IPR infringement needs to be a lot stronger," he said. "They need to take the situation very seriously. Recently some of the market traders have been told that should they sell counterfeit articles in the main markets then the landlords of those markets will be punished. That's an important step to take."
Chinese markets are filled with knockoff products of both domestic and foreign manufacturers. Pirated computer software, movies and brand-name clothes cost Western companies billions of dollars in sales each year.
The lost profits add to economic tensions with the United States, which already worries over its ballooning trade deficit with China. The deficit hit $202 billion in 2005. The U.S. government says China is the top source of illegally copied goods confiscated in the United States.
But the piracy also hurts Chinese consumers, who face health and safety risks from fake food products such as infant formula, bogus drugs and faulty car parts.
Chinese inspectors recently tested 8,700 consumer products for safety and found that more than a fifth failed to meet quality control standards.