The Chinese government on Sunday announced it was “intensifying” intellectual property rights protections, as Washington and Beijing struggle to reach a trade deal due in part to disagreements over IP issues.
The General Offices of the Communist Party of China Central Committee and the Chinese State Council issued a joint directive designed to strengthen controls around Chinese IP rights (IPR).
While the directive itself was not made public, the Chinese State Council announcement quotes from it, saying that “strengthening IPR protection is the most important content of improving the IPR protection system and also the biggest incentive to boost China's economic competitiveness.”
Some of the key priorities in the directive are for China to curb IPR infringement and the costs associated with protecting intellectual property by 2022, and for Chinese “social satisfaction” around IPR protections to “maintain a high level” by 2025.
The directive also prioritizes strengthening protections around trade secrets and other intellectual property and their source codes.
According to the Chinese State Council, the directive will allow China to “make comprehensive use of the law, technology and social governance policies to step up IPR protection.”
The update to China’s intellectual property policies comes as the issue has increasingly become a roadblock to trade negotiations between the U.S. and China, the world's two largest economies.
Reuters reported this week that trade talks between the two countries over a “phase two” trade deal to address intellectual property concerns might not occur, with the countries still struggling to come to an agreement over a “phase one” deal. The trade war began with tariffs in July 2018.
Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have increasingly put the spotlight on Chinese IP theft issues, including a few of the 2020 Democratic presidential candidates.
Their concerns are bolstered by the findings of a 2018 investigation by the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, which concluded that Chinese intellectual property theft costs the U.S. between $225 billion and $600 billion annually.
Earlier this month, Sen. Jim RischJim Elroy RischAides try to keep Biden away from unscripted events or long interviews, book claims Lobbying world Senate lawmakers let frustration show with Blinken MORE (R-Idaho), the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said Chinese IP theft was what was holding up the trade deal. He urged China to “embrace international norms” when it came to respecting intellectual property rights.
“What’s holding up trade right now, in my judgement, is not so much the numbers and the tariffs that are put on, but China has got to develop a rule of law when it comes to handling intellectual property,” Risch said.