Is The U.S. Finally Pressuring China To Be Serious About Intellectual Property Rights?

Chinese manufacturers have been benefitting from the goods that they allegedly copied from the manufacturers in the Western world, particularly those in the United States. A lot of U.S. entrepreneurs went out of business because their proprietary products were copied by Chinese manufacturers and sold globally at a fraction of their original price. But President Donald Trump recently cried out “Enough is enough!”

The United States under the Trump Administration is planning to slap tariffs on Chinese exports worth $100 billion. These tariffs will be enforced until the Chinese manufacturers and China itself feels the pressure. It seems President Trump wants the Chinese government to enforce its own IP protections. But some observers believe that there is a likelihood that this plan will backfire.

But Scott Kennedy an economic analyst at the Center for Strategic and International Studies believe that the Chinese have to feel economic pressure before they agree to make concessions. His worry is that President Trump has not done enough that will create an agreement with its allies, along with business and labor. As it is, Kennedy sees Trump’s stance as fighting tough and not fighting smart.

But at least, a China expert, Orville Schell of the Asia Society, admits that China was caught off-balance by Trump’s move. Schell thinks that Trump’s actions have perplexed the Chinese and made them worry. He believes that China doesn’t want to be involved in a trade war. But he believes there’s more than the Trump Administration should do to finally resolve the US/China intellectual property theft.

Most China experts agree that with all the rhetoric emanating from Trump’s camp, the intellectual property right issue is slowly getting better. They seem to have realized that the copying of Western software and movies was not as bad as they thought it used to be. Initially, this long-standing practice of pirating movies and software were considered by the West as stealing.

But now, one China expert, Andy Rothman of the investment company Matthews Asia, has referred to a recent poll of China’s American Chamber of Commerce headquartered in Beijing which revealed that only about 16 percent of its members thought that the illegal transfer of technology was a major problem.

Rothman explained that a decade ago, if one enters a Chinese drugstore to buy medicine, he will get fake drugs. Now, if one goes into a decent drugstore in China, he will be given drugs from their true manufacturers. Rothman believes that this is partly due to the pressure that was forced to the Chinese by Western governments. But he also admits that this could be the result of Chinese companies becoming more sophisticated in developing their own products that they want to protect using their own intellectual property laws. He added that lawsuits between Chinese companies regarding IP problems have alerted and warmed the courts and the Chinese government to the valid complaints made by Western companies.

Many China experts lament the fact that the U.S. was already close to making the necessary steps to remedy the IP problem with the Chinese before Trump took over the reins of government. It appears that the Obama Administration was negotiating with the Chinese government a bilateral trade before he relinquished his office. The effort was stifled by the resultant political activities that swept aside this particular concern.

It seems that the supposed bilateral agreement contains stronger words about the protection of IP. For this reason, and together with the recent pronouncements from the Trump Administration, it seems thing concerning IP rights are getting better, albeit slowly at that. But the point is: the IP issue is getting resolved. Trump even wants to speed up the process and some economic pundits believe that his diagnosis of China’s stubbornness is right on target.