The top U.S. trade official says the United States is not satisfied with China's protection of intellectual property rights. She said this is one of the contentious trade questions she plans to discuss with Chinese officials when she goes to Beijing, following a trip this week to Malaysia for a meeting of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, or ASEAN.
As U.S. Trade Representative Susan Schwab prepared for her trip to Asia, she had tough words for China.
"The United States is not yet satisfied with what the Chinese are doing in terms of protection of intellectual property," noted Schwab.
She spoke in an interview shown Sunday on C-SPAN, a private, non-profit network that broadcasts Congressional proceedings and other Washington political events on cable television. Disputes over so-called intellectual property issues usually involve violations of patents or copyrights.
Schwab will visit Singapore on Tuesday and then goes to Malaysia, for bilateral talks and a meeting of ASEAN economic ministers. From there, she goes to China next Sunday, on her first trip there as the top U.S. trade negotiator.
On C-SPAN Sunday, Schwab would not say whether the United States is preparing to take formal action in its trade disputes with China. But she said Washington is in what she described as a "pre-litigation stage" in a dispute with China over auto parts, just one of several contentious trade issues.
"We have issues related to intellectual property rights, that we're going to be talking to them about, and a potential of other cases, that are quite frankly - I'd rather not litigate in the World Trade Organization. I'd rather have China fix the problems, whether it's a market access problem, or a problem related to intellectual property and so on," she commented.
She said there are concrete ways China can step up patent and copyright protection. As an example, she pointed to what she described as a recent improvement in China's efforts to combat piracy of computer software.
"The Chinese agreed that all new computers, laptops and desktops, produced in China will have software loaded into it before it leaves the factory. Bingo," added Schwab. "You have resolved a major problem, in terms of software piracy, you know, one aspect of it."
She repeated Washington's emphasis that better intellectual property rights protection in China is not only good for American movies and music, but also is important in protecting Chinese innovation.