US politicians regard IPR as trump card to contain China
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Chinese scholar Ma Yide criticized US politicians who unilaterally initiated the China-US economic and trade frictions under the disguise of protecting intellectual property rights (IPR) in the latest issue of Qiushi, a journal under the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC).

Ma, an intellectual property professor from Zhongnan University of Economics and Law, refuted the groundless remarks of some US politicians, saying that intellectual property has always been regarded as a trump card to contain China.

Ma noted in the article that intellectual property is the bridge and link to free trade around the globe and a system guarantee for win-win cooperation.

However, some US politicians have used IPR as an excuse for trade friction, and put heavy pressure on China by fabricating the allegations of China’s “intellectual property theft” and “forced transfer of technology.”

In fact, there is some hidden agenda behind these fabricated rumors and practices. Their real intention is to keep up unilateralism and trade protectionism so as to hinder China’s development.

China is a protector and creator of intellectual property, instead of a theft, Ma said in the article.

It can be found through a review of China’s history of intellectual property governance that China spent only four decades establishing a relatively complete and high-standard IPR legal system, which is rare in world history.

The article provides some examples that can demonstrate China’s enhanced efforts in both the judicial and administrative protection of IPR, including an IPR-related judicial system composed of appeals courts and special intellectual property courts.

China’s Supreme People’s Court (SPC) opened an IPR court for IPE appeals. China set up IPR appeals courts in Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou, and special judicial organs at 20 intermediate courts in Nanjing, Suzhou, Wuhan, Xi’an and other cities to handle IPR cases across the country.

 China also restructured the state intellectual property office into the National Intellectual Property Administration (NIPA) and established a unified and high-efficiency IPR management mechanism.

China has joined almost all the international agreements on IPR protection. On top of that, China has signed 171 bilateral and multilateral cooperation agreements and MOUs with 63 countries, regions and international organizations, and established partnerships with 50 World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) member countries to expand cooperation in exchanges on law enforcement, effectively use the dispute settlement mechanism, further enhance the global IPR governance and jointly cope with the IPR governance issues.

The US released the Section 301 investigation report, claiming that China exerts pressure on foreign companies through shareholding restrictions and administrative licensing procedures to transfer US technologies to China.

But market access is different from forced technology transfer,Ma said in the article.

China has made its promise to revamp related laws and policies when it joined the World Trade Organization, vowing not to set the transfer of technology as a precondition for market access to foreign companies. There is no policy, law or any practice in China that coerces foreign companies to transfer their technology to Chinese counterparts, nor any article that strictly requires foreign partners to transfer their technology.

The Chinese government never approved foreign investors on the prerequisite of technology transfer or localization of the research and development.

Joint ventures are a form of corporate cooperation which was jointly determined after China’s negotiations with the WTO members including the US. They follow the rules of the WTO and are not a practice of forced technology transfer.

Did the US government always adopt fair practice of IPR protection? The article answered this question, noting that there are unfair double standards in the US’ history on IPR development.

US protection of foreign IP owners was quite limited in the first 200 years since the US was founded, which was below the international standard.

The US started to take strong measures in protecting IPR in the 1970s when its overall strength was remarkably enhanced, and linked intellectual property with foreign trade so as to cement its industry and technological advantages in global competition by setting trade technology barriers.

In the eyes of the US politicians, the intellectual property has always been a trump card to limit China’s participation in global business. The US administration has launched a total of six Section 301 investigations into China since the two countries established diplomatic relations in 1979. Four of them are concerned about intellectual property issues.

Since 2017, the US government has initiated another Section 301 investigation of China, accusing China of obtaining advanced technologies through unfair technology transfer, restrictions on administrative review and licensing, foreign investment policies and other measures.

Based on these allegations, the US side unilaterally triggered the China-US economic and trade frictions, adopted discriminatory policy against Chinese products, non-tariff barriers and abusive trade remedy measures and national security investigations.

Ma said in the article that respecting the market and law is a premise of the market economy and a must for a society ruled by law. Market behaviors should be regulated by market rules while legal problems should be dealt with legal means.

Facing market behavior among companies, the US government disregards the lawful approaches and international rules, and acts both a player and the referee. The practice of conducting sanctions on other country based on its domestic laws is against the rule of law and far from reasonable.

(Compiled by Fang Tian)