Hu Jintao is to visit the White House on 24 April, and Beijing has reportedly been preparing initiatives to ease trade tensions ahead of a meeting with George Bush, the US president.

US officials say unauthorised goods cost legitimate producers worldwide billions of dollars a year in lost potential sales, and China is widely regarded as the world's top source of illegal copies of music, movies, software, designer clothes, medicines and other products.

Such fake products are still widely available despite government crackdowns.

China contends that the situation has improved, with the government shutting down 17 production lines making pirated DVDs and CDs last year and six this year, according to Yan Xiaohong, deputy commissioner of the National Copyright Administration of China.

"We are very tough in our measures," Yan said at a news conference.

US officials have been pressing Beijing for stiffer penalties and to shut down factories and stores linked to counterfeits.

Cooperation

Beijing wants to strengthen cooperation with international authorities, according to Zheng Shaodong, a Public Security Ministry official, who appeared at the news conference with Yan.

"We hope to strike hard against international intellectual property rights infringements to maintain legal rights and international and economic and trade orders," Zheng said.

Carlos Gutierrez, the US commerce secretary, was to arrive in Beijing late on Monday for trade talks that he said would include the status of China's anti-piracy enforcement.

"We are very tough in our measures"

Yan Xiaohong,
Deputy Commissioner of the National Copyright Administration of China

"We want to see more results. We're not there," he said while visiting the southwestern city of Chongqing earlier on Monday.

"I don't think there are enough criminal prosecutions. I believe penalties are still on the light side."

Yan said that it is "a process" for China to enforce intellectual property rights because it is a developing country and that the problem wouldn't go away overnight.

Crackdown

He added that in a recent investigation of disc manufacturers, Chinese authorities pulled the licenses of six companies and halted production at eight more, including one company in Beijing and another in the southern province of Guangdong.

Other punitive measures against counterfeiters include fines and warnings, he said.

Authorities are offering rewards of up to 300,000 yuan ($36,000) for tips on illegal production lines, Yan said.

Yan said authorities were taking "effective measures" to promote use of legitimate software by Chinese companies. Industry estimates say 90% of software used in China is pirated.

Yan said personal-computer makers have been ordered to install only licensed software, and big companies are required to use only legal products.