Final countdown for US-Sino talks
THE die will be cast for the Sino-United States talks on intellectual property protection within the next 24 hours.
Ten days of intense discussion in Beijing and both sides are still keeping the international business community guessing about the outcome.
Whatever little has come out of the Chinese capital suggests the negotiators are desperately keen to avert a full-blown trade war, which will benefit third parties more than the US and China.
Will they succeed? The signs are encouraging.
First, the arrival of Charlene Barshefsky, the US Deputy Trade Representative, on Tuesday, to lead the US negotiating team augured well for the talks.
Next, from all indications, the tone of this round of talks had generally been tempered.
If there were any fierce exchanges, they were discreetly kept behind closed doors.
Then, there was the statement from Xinhua (the New China News Agency), which gave hope of a successful conclusion: 'Both Chinese and US negotiators expressed their willingness . . . to resolve their differences on intellectual property rights and reach an agreement as early as possible through more positive efforts.' Further, to demonstrate its desire to keep up the fight against intellectual property pirates, China carried out its most intensive raids this week in Guangdong, where the culprits are concentrated.
The Business Software Alliance, an intellectual property watchdog highly critical of the Chinese Government's lack of protection in this field, took the unusual step of working with Beijing to wipe out the bootleggers.
The raids did not go unnoticed. Mr Kantor said he had 'noted' the raids and the closure of three factories making illegal compact discs and laser discs.
Ms Barshefsky said yesterday the two sides were trying to wrap up after a day of 'productive talks'.
Even Wu Yi, China's trade minister, would like to see the talks achieving 'good results'.
All these signals point to a resolution of a thorny issue in US-Sino trade relations.