A top mainland copyright official yesterday angrily rejected accusations by US Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez of widespread use of pirated software in Chinese government agencies. The reaction by Wang Ziqiang, a spokesman for the National Copyright Administration, came as President Hu Jintao met Microsoft chairman Bill Gates in Seattle and pledged to better protect intellectual property rights. 'As a staff [member] who has personally been involved in the campaign to promote licensed software in government agencies, I think Mr Gutierrez's criticisms are a deviation from basic facts and unfounded,' he said. Mr Wang was responding to media reports quoting Mr Gutierrez as saying that up to 70 per cent of Chinese government offices still used unlicensed software. Mr Wang said Beijing had completed the campaign for licensed software to be used by all government bodies, including those at provincial and city level, by the end of last year. 'But we cannot completely rule out the possibility that some personnel and agencies may still be using pirated software,' he said. However, overseas software companies have long complained that while the mainland has claimed significant progress in this area, they have not seen a significant rise in sales. Mr Wang said China had spent more than 140 million yuan in signing procurement contracts for licensed software required by central government agencies. Meanwhile, Zhang Qin, vice-commissioner of the State Intellectual Property Office, dismissed a recent study by the Business Software Alliance (BSA) listing China as the world's worst offender with nearly 90 per cent of pirated software usage. 'I think the BSA's study mostly focused on the software for personal computers and other end-users. It is biased to calculate the percentage of pirated software based on such limited samples,' he said. Commenting on Mr Hu's meeting with Mr Gates, Mr Wang said the president had sought to rebuild confidence among American businesses on Beijing's commitment in cracking down on rampant piracy. 'He wants to reassure foreign investors and enterprises that they should have confidence in China's IPR protection and trust that the Chinese government will be able to bring piracy and other IPR violations under control,' he said.