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Boston101 Post time: 2019-1-1 10:45
IP theft is not natural.
US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer completed a 182-page report on Chinese “unfair trade” practices on March 22. The report was particularly vexed in denouncing China of “forcing” US firms to surrender technology to Chinese joint venture partners.
On the charge of intellectual-property theft, the US insists that the Lighthizer report presented a solid case against China, prompting the Trump administration to propose harsh tariffs of up to US$150 billion worth of Chinese “imports.”
Neither the US nor the European Union has given credit to China for its massive spending on research and development activities to restructure the economy from low to value-added production. According to a February 26 report by US-based CNBC, China spent $279 billion on R&D in 2017, up by almost 71% from 2012.
It is also ironic that a major reason behind China’s leapfrogging the technology gap is the West’s efforts to restrict Chinese participation in its technology sectors. In April 2010, the Young European Federalists’ magazine The New Federalist reported that the EU had accepted Chinese money but barred China from active participation in the Galileo project, the EU’s global navigation satellite system (GNSS), perhaps for security reasons.
The New York Times report was also telling in that it revealed the concern of the US security establishment that China could one day equal if not surpass American military strategy.
The US-based National Science Foundation predicted in this year’s “Science and Engineering Indicators” report said China would become a global innovator very soon if present trends on R&D funding continue.
The US encirclement of China with military bases and policy of recruiting nations to help it “contain” the country might be another reason behind China’s spending on military technology to enable it deter military adventurism by the US and its allies.
Second, the charges of “unfair trade” practices against China might be exaggerated at best. Besides, it is difficult to fathom that any country could have achieved what China did by just stealing from other nations.
Third, not many nations believe the West’s “China threat” narrative. According to a 2017 Pew Poll, most nations feel the US is the biggest threat in the world. Indeed, even Canada and Mexico, close US allies and neighbors, opined that the United States was far more threatening than China.
The foreign minister of Djibouti, Mahamoud Ali Youssouf, publicly resented former US secretary of state Rex Tillerson’s insinuation that Djibouti did not know what it was doing when it signed trade and investment agreements with China. Peru’s trade minister, Eduardo Ferreyros, in February echoed Youssouf regarding Chinese trade and investment. They are not alone in rebuking and resenting America’s demonizing of China.
India and China appear to be heading for rapprochement, suggesting a new cooperative relationship that could derail Trump’s Ind0-Pacific ambition.
Stakeholders in the South China Sea might be similarly suspicious of US intentions, explaining why the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) is negotiating a code of conduct with China. Myanmar, Thailand and other Southeast Asian nations are also holding military exercises with and buying arms from China.
There is no reason to believe that staunch allies like Australia, Japan and South Korea are willingly joining the US in containing China, because that would amount to cutting off the hand that feeds them. China is these countries’ biggest export market, according to the International Monetary Fund.