BEIJING, CHINA - China has detained more than 4,000 people suspected of violating intellectual property rights since November and will toughen punishment to tackle the rampant crime, an official said Tuesday.
The announcement came ahead of President Hu Jintao's visit to Washington next week, at which copyright infringement in China - a constant thorn in China-US ties - could be on the agenda in talks with President Barack Obama.
Police have uncovered more than 2,000 cases of intellectual property right violations worth 2.3 billion yuan (US$350 million) since a crackdown was launched in late November, Gao Feng, a senior official with the public security ministry, told reporters.
The number of arrests, cases and value of infringements were three times higher than the same period a year earlier, Gao said, according to a transcript posted on the official website China.com.cn.
The results of the nationwide campaign against piracy, which ends in March, show "intellectual property rights crimes are still rampant and frequent", Gao said, vowing to "toughen punishment" of violators.
Intellectual property rights are widely flouted in China, which is home to the biggest counterfeit and piracy market in the world.
The United States has repeatedly called on China to crack down on intellectual property theft, with US Trade Representative Ron Kirk saying last month that "concrete and measurable results" were needed. --AFP