Schwab complains at China putting U.S. movies on pause

Wed Dec 12, 2007 9:54pm EST
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XIANGHE, China (Reuters) - U.S. officials have "forcefully" told China that Washington does not consider it acceptable for China to suspend the showing of American-made movies, U.S. Trade Representative Susan Schwab said on Thursday.

Speaking to reporters on the second and final day of a "strategic economic dialogue" on trade issues, Schwab said there was still no formal notification from China that such a suspension has occurred.

"We have not gotten formal confirmation that this problem has arisen," Schwab said. "We have, however, indications that it may be a problem again and we have spoken forcefully to our Chinese hosts (about it)."

China Film Group Corporation, the sole importer of foreign films into China, said it had not heard of any ban, the China Daily reported.

"I have never heard of such a thing, that is, my company hasn't received any instruction of the kind," CFGC spokesman Weng Li told the paper.

China's film bureau, the State Administration of Radio Film and Television, also denied any ban.

"There have been no documents or announcements circulated, so everything should be normal," a spokesman who declined to leave his name told Reuters by phone.

Schwab said the fact that China had been permitted to limit its imports of U.S.-made movies to 20 a year, agreed when it entered the World trade Organization, was a factor contributing to ongoing tensions over protection of intellectual property.

"If Chinese citizens want to watch American movies and they can't go to movie theatres to see them then they are going to smuggle in and purchase copies of DVDs and that is a part of the market access case that we've taken to the WTO," she said.   Continued...

<p>A scene from DreamWorksParamount Pictures' "Transformers." Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez said on Wednesday that China has stopped granting permission for U.S. movies to be shown in its theatres and the United States was trying to get the ban removed. REUTERS/DreamWorks Paramount Pictures/Handout</p>