EU Targets China's Alleged Tech Looting, Steps Up WTO Fight

(Bloomberg) -- The European Union stepped up a legal fight with China over intellectual-property rights, handing a political boost to a parallel U.S. campaign.

The EU broadened on Thursday a complaint at the World Trade Organization over forced technology transfers by European companies doing business in China. Building on a case filed in June, the bloc is targeting Chinese laws that regulate the approval of investments in the areas of electric vehicles and crop seeds and of joint ventures across industries.

China dismissed the EU accusations as “groundless,” saying the country respects intellectual-property rights. “China attaches great importance to IPR protection,” the Chinese mission to the EU said in an emailed statement. “There are not any Chinese laws or regulations that force foreign companies to transfer technology to their Chinese partners.”

The EU has been lending support to U.S efforts to curtail alleged unfair Chinese investment rules in a balancing act that also involves criticism by the bloc of U.S. President Donald Trump’s “America First” agenda and protectionist tilt.

“We cannot tolerate that EU companies have to give away valuable technology as a price to pay for investing in China,” EU Trade Chief Cecilia Malmstrom said in a press release. “This clearly goes against the rules that China committed itself to when it joined the WTO.”

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