Finally, US appears ready to battle China’s rampant IP theft
Last week, President Donald Trump directed U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer to investigate, among other things, whether China’s laws, policies or practices were harming American intellectual property, innovation and technology. Undoubtedly, Ambassador Lighthizer will come back to the president with a straightforward (and unequivocal) answer: Yes; China is (and has been) robbing us blind.
For the better part of a decade, if not longer, China has been rapaciously pillaging the core intellectual property of American companies, both at home and abroad. Inside the United States, the Chinese government engages in a now well-documented campaign to aggressively steal the trade secrets and creative output of our most innovative companies across the economy, from chemicals to information technology. While this theft used to be human-enabled, today the vast majority of it takes place in cyberspace.
Moreover, this theft, unlike traditional espionage, is not principally aimed at gaining an intelligence advantage or enabling more effective government policies. Rather, it is focused on directly improving Chinese corporate economic competitiveness by allowing corporations to build products without the massive investment of time and capital that American companies put into creating new, innovative technology.
Indeed, this theft is so vast from an economic perspective, former National Security Agency Director and founding Commander of U.S. Cyber Command Gen. (ret.) Keith Alexander referred to this ongoing cyber heist as the “greatest transfer of wealth in human history.”
But focusing solely on this form of Chinese government cyber-thievery is short-sighted, because it fails to highlight the highway robbery that takes place everyday inside of China, when American companies seek to sell their wares into China’s massive (and innovation-hungry) marketplace. Some of this theft is garden-variety piracy — albeit at massive scale — focused on software, movies, music and the like.