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China vows to step up IP protection amid EU, US concerns

A Chinese national flag flutters at the headquarters of a commercial bank on a financial street in central Beijing. Photo: Reuters

Chinese officials vowed to step up intellectual property rights protection after decades of simmering tensions between China, the European Union and the United States over the question began to heat up again in recent weeks.

The European Union on Friday lodged a complaint on intellectual property rights protection, mainly on alleged forced technology transfers, against China at the World Trade Organization as Beijing was also at odds with Washington over the same issue.

Responding to the EU complaint, China’s ministry of commerce said China attached great importance to intellectual property rights protection and had adopted many serious protective measures for owners of intellectual property rights, and China was willing to solve the referred disputes with the European Union under the procedures and mechanisms of the World Trade Organization.

Meanwhile, critics from the United States claimed China steals or forces foreign companies to transfer technology by joint venture policies or other means, a charge bluntly rejected by Beijing but apparently fuelled the tensions and poisoned the atmosphere for trade talks between the world’s two economic super heavyweights.

China would step up its protection and management of intellectual property, speed up the commercialization process, and help improve global intellectual property rights protection, officials said on Tuesday, which marked the 10th anniversary of the promulgation of the Outline of the National Intellectual Property Strategy issued by the State Council, China's Cabinet.

The document was believed to be the bedrock guidelines of China's intellectual property protection, and virtually the directive from the central government had the same binding force as laws in China.

As a result, In the past 10 years,  patents issued in China grew from 96,000 in 2007 to 1.3 million in 2017,  the third in global ranking behind the US and Japan, according to the State Intellectual Property Office.

And also, China has probed and dealt with over190,000 cases of patent infringement and 170,000 cases of trademark infringement in the past five years, and the country also established specific courts countrywide to deal with intellectual  property rights protection.

Despite the remaining problems at home and rifts with the European Union, the U.S and other countries, China’s property protection mechanisms have seen overall improvement and greater transparency, said Shen Changyu, director of the state Intellectual office.

China would devote more resources to producing high-value and influential brands and patents, and participating in the global governance of intellectual property to help it become more inclusive, balanced and efficient, he said.

Experts in China urged the government to conduct more awareness campaigns to educate the public on the importance of intellectual property rights protection and its role in fuelling national and social development, and to put out potential flashpoints of friction with foreign competitors.

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