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China Does About-Face In Dispute With US

BEIJING yesterday ordered a national boycott of pirated goods, in further attempt to avert a potentially disastrous trade war with Washington over theft of intellectual property in China.

China also will amend its three-year-old copyright law in 1995 to ``adapt [it] to the changing situation,'' the official Xinhua news agency quoted an official as saying.

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The ``changing situation'' appeared to be a code word for what Washington alleges is the proliferating piracy of copyrights, patents, and trademarks by Chinese firms - many of them government owned and operated.

Piracy is central to a deepening rift between Beijing and Washington, which Dec. 31 threatened to punish China with tariffs on $2.8 billion worth of its exports from Feb. 4 unless it acts to address US concerns.

Washington has denounced Beijing's failure to close 29 south China plants, some state-owned, that have been pressing 75 million pirated compact discs a year, mostly for export.

China countered yesterday that it had seized 1.58 million pirated books and 2.2 million bootleg CDs last year.

Sri Lanka truce

SRI Lanka's Tamil rebels and the government agreed to a truce on Tuesday in their 11-year war.

The truce, which might not start for several days, will include demilitarization zones between government and rebel lines.

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Peace talks were suspended in October when a suicide bomber assassinated the main opposition presidential candidate in Colombo.

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