Chinese trade officials have rejected a complaint by the US to the World Trade Organisation (WTO) that import restrictions on foreign movies, music and books are an obstacle to the country's crackdown on rampant piracy.

Wang Ziqiang, spokesperson for National Copyright Administration, said yesterday that the accusation that market access restrictions on films and audiovisual products have led to rampant piracy was groundless.

He noted that despite China 's annual quota on imported films, there are no such rigid restrictions on imported music and books.

Wang also said that the US government's complaint to the WTO over China's intellectual property rights problems would not help their bilateral co-operation over intellectual property.

Last week, the US filed two complaints against China for piracy and counterfeiting of US goods and placing barriers to market access for American movies, music, books and other publications.

'We are not denying that we have piracy and counterfeiting problems in our market, but it should not be used as the grounds for Washington's complaint,' he said. He added that the existing consultation mechanism between the countries remained the proper way to solve intellectual property rights problems.

He defended China's record of fighting against IPR infringement, citing a US group report early this year that estimated China's per capita economic loss due to piracy at about one-tenth of that in Canada.

Echoing Wang, Yin Xintian, spokesman for the State Intellectual Property Office, called piracy 'a common problem for every country and region. The proper way is to talk and cooperate, instead of pointing the finger at each other'.

'We have established a complete legal system [on IPR protection] and law enforcement units in only two decades, but it is far too short to increase awareness on the issue among the entire 1.3 billion population within such limited time,' he said.

More than 73 million pirated products, including books, audiovisual products and software discs were seized last year on the mainland, and about 3,500 people were jailed for infringements. The Motion Picture Association (MPA) estimates that China 's optical disc market has a piracy rate of around 93%.