China signals 'orderly' implementation of phase one deal with the US
Published: Apr 25, 2021 11:18 PM
China US Photo: Xinhua

Photo: Xinhua

China is seeing good progress on the terms regarding intellectual property rights protection in the phase one deal with the US, according to an official at the China National Intellectual Property Administration (CNIPA) on Sunday, sending a clear signal that China has remained committed to the deal despite the turbulence from COVID-19 pandemic last year and tense bilateral relations.

At a news conference in Beijing, Shen Changyu, head of the CNIPA said that China continued to "orderly implement terms regarding intellectual property rights in the China-US phase one trade and economic agreement."

The comment represents a rare mention by officials over the phase one agreement in recent months as the US is said to be reviewing the agreement along with other trade issues with China. 

Under the agreement signed last year, China will improve its intellectual property protection in several areas, including in counterfeit and pirated goods and pharmaceuticals. 

"The phase one deal has been fazing out of the spotlight last year because of the COVID-19 pandemic, but the CNIPA announcement shows that China has leveled up its protection of intellectual property rights and remains committed to the trade deal," said Bai Ming, deputy director of the Ministry of Commerce's International Market Research Institute.

China has been ramping up efforts to encourage more high-quality patent protection, according to Shen. For the 14th Five Year Plan (2021-25), "high quality invention patents per ten thousand people" is an important development goal. Supervision has also been heightened on application sponsorship. 

"It is an important component of the trade deal that has developed into a target for China's economy as well," Bai said. 

The phase one agreement also required that China buys around billions of dollars worth goods and services from the US in 2020, but according to Tian Yun, vice director of the Beijing Economic Operation Association, the amount of actual purchases made was unlikely to meet up the requirement due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

"One major reason is that the COVID-19 pandemic has paralyzed many farms in the US," Tian said, "and that it made shipping extremely expensive. Under such circumstances, it is not economical to purchase US products exactly as required by the agreement and it would be next to impossible to fulfill the purchase quotas in the deal."

However, since the beginning of this year, with the gradual resumption of business, China has been increasing its US purchases. China's imports from the US soared in the first quarter this year, up 61.3 percent year-on-year to a total of 561.42 billion yuan ($86.43 billion). In March, China's imports of soybeans spiked 320 percent to 7.18 million tons, compared to the same period last year, according to customs data. 

According to Tian, China will remain committed to tightening regulation on intellectual property rights not only to fulfill its pledges for the phase one deal, but also to ensure quality economic development. 

"China is the biggest manufacturer for the world economy, it is also becoming an innovation powerhouse," Tian said, "to encourage and protect high quality innovation has become an important target."

In rankings compiled by the World Intellectual Property Organization, China climbed to 14th in the global innovation index in 2020, up 15 places compared with 2015.