China Says It Protects Foreign Firms' Intellectual Property

(Bloomberg) -- China has fulfilled its commitments to the World Trade Organization and protects the intellectual property rights of foreign firms, according to a government report released on Thursday.

"China has been a strong advocate for free trade," according to the white paper entitled ‘China and the World Trade Organization,’ which was issued by the State Council Information Office. "China has comprehensively fulfilled its commitment to the WTO, substantially opened its market to the world, and delivered mutually beneficial and win-win outcomes on a wider scale."

The lawful intellectual property rights of foreign firms are protected in China, according to the report, which also expressed hope that foreign governments would improve protection of Chinese rights.

The openness of China’s economy and how it protects foreign property rights are at the heart of the current dispute with the administration of President Donald Trump. U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo last week called China’s claims of economic openness "a joke," prompting President Xi Jinping to respond.

Next week the U.S. is due to begin imposing tariffs on $50 billion worth of Chinese exports in response to what it terms the "theft" of U.S. technology and intellectual property, as part of its efforts to shrink the trade deficit. Beijing has vowed to respond once the U.S. action materializes.

"Surging tides of anti-globalization in recent years, coupled with rising protectionism and unilateralism" have challenged the multilateral trading system, according to the paper, adding that China will encourage its enterprises to abide by local laws in making outward investment. A recent commentary in state media said that firms shouldn’t be "giant babies" in expecting the government to come to their aid in disputes overseas, but should respect local laws.

The report provided a detailed account of China’s progress since joining the WTO in 2001 in reducing trade barriers, broadening market access and enhancing intellectual property protection.

It comes as the Trump administration debates how it will restrict investment into U.S. companies to "ensure a robust defense of American technology and intellectual property." Trump announced yesterday that for the moment, his administration would look to increase the powers of the existing committee that reviews foreign investment.

To contact Bloomberg News staff for this story: Yinan Zhao in Beijing at yzhao300@bloomberg.net;Miao Han in Beijing at mhan22@bloomberg.net

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With assistance from Editorial Board