China and the United States are still holding out hope for a last-minute compromise in their face-off over copyright piracy despite a collapse of talks in Beijing Saturday.
Overshadowed by the growing threat of a trade war with the United States, China refused to say Sunday if it would send a delegation to Washington this week for last-ditch negotiations. The US has accused China of fostering rampant piracy of computer software, videos and compact discs and threatened punitive tariffs if China doesn't crack down before February 4.
After talks ended over the weekend with no agreement, US Trade Representative Mickey Kantor urged China to resume discussion in Washington before the U.S.-imposed deadline. An eleventh-hour effort would be consistent with past American trade disputes with China.
''If there is no agreement by February 4, I will authorize publication of a final list of Chinese imports that will be subject to 100 percent tariffs, with a value from $1 billion to well over $2 billion,'' Mr. Kantor said in Washington.
China responded by blaming the United States for the collapse of nine days of talks but said further negotiations could take place.
After almost two years of negotiations on the issue of copyright infringement, the U.S. is pushing for raids to shut down more than two dozen plants in southern China believed to be producing illegal laser and compact discs of films and music. Frustrated with Beijing's failure to enforce its anti-priacy code, the U.S. charges that the plants are bootlegging goods for export all over Asia.
U.S. officials are pushing for a ''good faith'' crackdown against the Shenfei Laser Optical Systems Co. in Shenzhen, one of the worst offenders. But like many of the other pirate factories, the plant is believed to enjoy protection of the Chinese military and powerful local officials in Shenzhen.
Chief US negotiator Lee Sands has angered the Chinese with his confrontational approach to the negotiations and for abruptly breaking off discussions last December.
In recent weeks, China has been trying to sooth American concerns by launching raids against lesser plants and requiring Chinese publishers of foreign recordings to show valid contracts or face punishment.
But the American stance has hardened in the wake of a rising trade deficit with China. Second only to Japan, the US trade deficit with China now stands at nearly $30 billion.