LAS VEGAS — Before delivering his annual State of the Moviegoing Nation address here Tuesday, MPAA chairman-CEO Jack Valenti praised the Clinton administration for its enthusiastic support of intellectual property.

Valenti, who met with reporters and editors for his traditional ShoWest breakfast, said U.S. trade rep Charlene Barshefsky has proven a tough, fair and thorough negotiator in talks with the Chinese over piracy issues.

Despite some continuing problems, the Chinese “are mostly keeping their pledges” to help bring piracy under control and open the market to American pictures, he said.

Someone raised the question over the fuss China made over “Kundun,” a movie about the Dalai Lama, but Valenti stated that he doesn’t think the Chinese are too concerned “with just one film.”

He pointed out that the government has admitted 13 Western movies for exhibition and, although the new market might be moving more slowly than Hollywood would like, he is optimistic it will grow.

The MPAA topper added that Barshefsky was involved closely in talks with China even under her predecessor, Mickey Kantor. He also said the Bush administration had done a great deal to advance the cause of copyright protection.

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