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Archived updates for Wednesday, November 16, 2005

U.S. to China: Move Faster on IPR Protection

The following was excerpted from the Remarks by Ambassador Rob Portman, United States Trade Representative, at the Conference on China-U.S. Relations: Trade, Diplomacy and Research in Beijing, China on November 14, 2005:
. . . Finally, perhaps the most common and sometimes most frustrating
response I hear from the Chinese is that the government is working on the
problem but it will take lots of time. We have heard it with currency and we
also hear this very often in regard to the protection of intellectual property
rights. Sometimes the argument is made that the United States took over a
century to develop its intellectual property protection system, and that China
to date has only had a couple of decades.

It is hard to develop a full and thorough system for the protection of
IPR. But China is not building this system from scratch, and Chinese companies
seem to understand these concepts pretty well when they invest in other
countries. We have been working intensely with China on intellectual property
protection for more than a decade – beginning in the early 1990s. We have had
several agreements and there has been significant improvement in some areas - in
the development of IP laws.

We remain eager to work with the Chinese to help them improve their
system. Just last week, for example, we had excellent meetings here in Beijing
with representatives from both of our governments to discuss this problem and
practical solutions. To date, though, the problem of intellectual property
protection is not being solved quickly enough. There are obvious areas in which
China can and should act immediately.

For example, China should roll up the illegal distribution networks
that are known to bring millions of fake DVDs and CDs to market. Fakes on every
street corner are an unbecoming symbol for a world power such as China.
Likewise, government offices and government-controlled firms should be not use
fake software.

Last September, when they met in New York, President Hu told President
Bush that he was taking a personal interest in solving the IPR issues. This was
an important and welcome statement.

And the Chinese government has good reason to crack down on piracy
themselves. While U.S. firms suffer huge losses from IP piracy and
counterfeiting and while this is a disproportionate impact on US knowledge based
exports, the losses faced by Chinese firms and by Chinese entrepreneurs and the
Chinese economy are even greater. Well-known Chinese marks such as Haier, for
example, suffer from copycat productions of their goods. Chinese musicians,
movie studios, and authors lose profits from their own efforts because they
cannot enforce their own legal rights throughout the country.

This problem needs to be fixed sooner rather than later, because U.S.
knowledge-based exports are disproportionately affected. It is important for the
bilateral U.S.-China relationship, and it is important for China's own economic
development. . . .
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