Trump’s IPR claims ‘totally baseless’

By Xie Jun Source:Global Times Published: 2018/1/18 22:08:40

US president mulling ‘big fine’ for alleged theft


A worker at a semiconductor firm based in Chizhou, East China's Anhui Province Photo: VCG

US President Donald Trump's accusations about Chinese companies stealing intellectual property rights (IPR) from the US were dismissed by experts who talked to the Global Times on Thursday.

In an interview with Reuters on Thursday, Trump and his economic adviser Gary Cohn said that China had forced US companies to hand over their intellectual property as part of the process of doing business domestically.

But China has never done this, and if such practices have happened, it has been without any government intervention, Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson Lu Kang said at a press briefing on Thursday.

Experts also pointed out that the US accusations are flawed.

"IPR violation is a global problem, and is not exclusive to any single country. It shouldn't be used as an excuse to bring shame on any country," Bai Ming, a research fellow at the Chinese Academy of International Trade and Economic Cooperation, told the Global Times on Thursday.

According to Bai, the US is very strict and cautious about exporting its advanced technologies, and it's very hard for overseas countries to get access to the key technologies. "Theft? It's totally baseless," Bai said.

He also said that in a business deal each party should contribute its own resources. "Why must Chinese companies collaborate with overseas companies that have nothing to give? In Trump's logic, he would force Chinese firms to work with US companies," Bai noted.

'Big fine' coming

Trump also said that the US government was considering imposing "a big fine" as part of its probe into alleged IPR theft by China, Reuters reported.

"We have a very big intellectual property potential fine going, which is going to come out soon," Trump said in the interview with the Reuters.

Although Trump didn't specify how big the fine would be or how it would be imposed, he said it would be large. "We are talking about numbers that you haven't even thought about," Reuters quoted him as saying.

The US government launched a Section 301 Investigation into China's alleged IPR theft in August 2017.

Bai said that although IPR protection in China is far from flawless, the Chinese government has made a lot of progress in the area.

"Looking only at the dark side of the situation is nothing but discrimination," Bai said, adding that with the rise of Chinese domestic brands, IPR protection is also a must for Chinese companies.

"To solve this problem, countries should sit down and negotiate," he said.

A senior executive from a Shenzhen-based semiconductor company also told the Global Times on Thursday that China's IPR protection has improved a lot.

"Based on my observation, Chinese high-tech companies are paying what they should pay for use of patents," he said.

Chen Fengying, an expert at the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations, said that it's probable the US government will take measures against certain Chinese companies, with measures like freezing some of their business in the US.

"They might have prepared some IPR cases involving Chinese companies," she noted.

Sinovel Wind Group Co, a Beijing-based new-energy company, said in a filing with the Shanghai Stock Exchange on January 9 that the US government has recently opened a case accusing it of IPR violation and stealing commercial secrets. Sinovel Wind said in the filing that it will take legal action to protect its interests.

The Shenzhen-based executive said it's possible that the US government will pick on certain Chinese companies, but sanctions against a large number of Chinese firms are unlikely. 

Unilateral tax

The Reuters report also noted that Trump's IPR accusations are a clear indication that the US government will take "retaliatory trade action" against China.

Trump also disclosed in the interview that he will announce actions against China over trade soon. He said he hoped there will not be a trade war, but "if there is, there is."

Chen said that it's possible the US might impose a unilateral tax on Chinese firms. But she said that that wouldn't severely hurt Sino-US trade relations, as trade friction would only exert a small influence on the two countries' overall trade status. "Trump's words are more intended to exert pressure on China," she said.



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