The issue of intellectual property protection looks set to be a major focus of the upcoming U.S.-China Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade talks scheduled to start April 11.Carlos Gutierrez, the U.S. secretary of commerce, was in Beijing Tuesday to discuss preparations for the talks and raised the issue of intellectual property protection. He met with several senior officials, including Premier Wen Jiabao and Vice Premier Wu Yi, a former trade official who headed China's JCCT delegation at the last meeting.In his public remarks, Gutierrez emphasized better intellectual property protection will benefit China, noting that ending software piracy would bring in more tax revenue and create jobs.The JCCT was established in 1983 as a forum for the discussion of trade concerns between the U.S. and China. Recent meetings have brought together top trade officials from both sides for talks on a range of matters, including access to Chinese markets for U.S. companies.Intellectual property protection issues largely dominated the agenda at the last JCCT meeting, held in Beijing during July 2005. In response to U.S. government concerns, the Chinese side agreed at that time to take specific measures to reduce intellectual property infringement.In the run up to next month's meeting, Chinese officials have publicly stressed their commitment to raising protection for intellectual property rights and highlighted their progress in this area.In recent testimony to a U.S. Senate subcommittee, Chris Israel, the U.S. Department of Commerce's coordinator for international intellectual property enforcement, noted China has made progress in some areas. However, more work needs to be done, he said.One area that appears to be in dispute is whether or not China has fulfilled its commitment to end government use of pirated software. On Monday, Yan Xiaohong, the deputy commissioner of the National Copyright Administration of China, reiterated the Chinese government's claim that all government departments were using licensed copies of software at the end of last year.That claim has previously been challenged by the U.S. side. "U.S. industry says its sales data does not support this claim, and there is no other evidence to show that China has moved forward to purchase and use only legal software," Israel said during his testimony.Whether or not renewed enforcement efforts and recent statements by Chinese officials ahead of the JCCT talks will yield long-term results remains to be seen."We have seen, prior to previous JCCT talks, stepped-up anti-piracy enforcement and rhetorical activity from China, and this pre-JCCT meeting is not different," wrote Mike Ellis, the Motion Picture Association's (MPA) senior vice president and regional director of Asia-Pacific, in an e-mail."The film industry... is\u00a0hopeful that these renewed Chinese promises will translate into real world reductions in the availability of pirated product," Ellis wrote.