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China will be focus of new U.S. anti-piracy initiative

By Mackenzie Green, For CNN

Washington (CNN) -- China will be "a significant focus" of the United States' new plan to protect intellectual property, a U.S. official said Wednesday.

Washington plans a "comprehensive review" of its support of U.S. business efforts to prevent intellectual property theft overseas, Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator Victoria Espinel told the House Committee on Foreign Affairs at a hearing.

Espinel singled out China, saying that "due to the scale and scope of manufacturing, its industrial policies and its potential as an export market, it's fair to say that China raises a particularly troubling set of issues."

"Therefore, China will be a significant focus of our enforcement efforts as we address intellectual property infringement abroad," she said in her opening statements to the committee.

"Whether it's coordinating our law enforcement personnel overseas, developing a strategy to go after foreign-based websites, or using trade policy tools to address the competitive disadvantages that we face, China will be a priority," Espinel elaborated.

According to a June report from the Congressional Research Service, China is the United States' second-largest trading partner, its third-largest export market, and its biggest source of imports.

The report also noted that "China has some of the highest piracy rates in the world: 95 percent for entertainment software, 90 percent for records and music, and 82 percent for business software," according to statistics it cited from the International Intellectual Property Alliance.

"Piracy in China for business and entertainment software alone is estimated to (have) cost U.S. firms $3.5 billion in lost trade in 2008, which were larger than losses from any other foreign country," the report added.

The Obama administration released its plan to combat intellectual property theft in June. The plan spells out the coordination of efforts of different parts of the government that are working to stop such theft and infringement, the White House website said.