China fires back at lawmakers, U.S. officials on copyright claims

An effort on Capitol Hill to call attention to China's record on copyright theft has evoked the ire of Beijing's top officials.

China's Foreign Ministry on Saturday took aim at the announcement that Beijing ranked atop the U.S. Trade Representative's latest list of habitual intellectual property abusers. A spokesman told China's state-run media this weekend that the allegation was "groundless."

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"The involved U.S. Congress members should respect the fact and stop making groundless accusations against China," a Ministry spokesman said, perhaps also referring to last week's news that the Congressional Anti-Piracy Caucus likewise disputed China's copyright record.

China's retort arrives just as its top diplomats sit down with Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner for the latest round of strategic talks.

Those negotiations, which span Monday and Tuesday, will center primarily on the country's trade and currency practices, with special emphasis on copyright infringement, according to U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk, who filled reporters in on the meeting's agenda last week.

Also on tap will be China's widely disputed "indigenous innovation" rules. Those restrictions essentially force Chinese government agencies to purchase tech equipment only from businesses that develop and register their intellectual property patents locally.

A growing number of tech groups have decried the rules as protectionist, especially since the Chinese government represents one of the world's largest markets for new technology. So, too, have lawmakers from both parties and chambers recently slammed China's "indigenous innovation" rules as affronts on uninhibited trade.