Chinese president Hu Jintao will this week visit the US. One of the items that most certainly will be discussed during the visit is the Chinese counterfeit and piracy market. Western business leaders have for years urged the Chinese goverment to crack down on intellectual property theft - without any real results. Before important events, like Communist party congresses or the Shanghai Expo the Chinese goverment organizes campaigns against product piracy. But these crack-downs do not lead to any real improvements.
Now, a few days before president Hu Jintao is to visit the US, China´s commerce minister Chen Deming has again promised action ....
BEIJING — US and European business leaders said Friday that Beijing needed to do more to respect intellectual property rights, as China's commerce minister admitted enforcement of copyright laws could improve.
The comments from the foreign executives came at a government forum organised ahead of Chinese President Hu Jintao's visit to the United States next week, during which copyright infringement is likely to be discussed.
"Despite improvement, inconsistent and ineffective IPR enforcement is still a serious concern for our members," the president of the American Chamber of Commerce in China (AmCham), Ted Dean, told the audience.
"There is more work to be done, and we are eager to engage in dialogue... to address these issues together."
Intellectual property rights are widely flouted in China, which is home to the biggest counterfeit and piracy market in the world.
The United States and the European Union have repeatedly called on China to crack down on intellectual property theft. US Trade Representative Ron Kirk said last month that "concrete and measurable results" were needed.
Beijing said this week that it had detained more than 4,000 people suspected of violating intellectual property rights since November as part of a six-month nationwide crackdown on fake goods launched in late October.
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The Finnish daily Helsingin Sanomat recently published a realistic report:
China has been promising for years that it would root out the thriving industry in pirated goods. However, nothing appears to have changed at street level.
High-quality versions of the latest DVD films are available for about two euros apiece. The Chinese version of the iPad, with 64 gigabytes, is available for EUR 230.
A hard drive with 180 Nintendo Wii games copied onto it goes for just over EUR 40. Furniture stores and clothing retailers copy products on the basis of photographs brought in by the customer.
Occasionally China cracks down on product piracy. Such campaigns occur before key events such as party congresses or the last year’s Shanghai Expo. However, even the crackdowns do little to change the situation. Customers buying DVDs are simply guided to the back of the store through a secret doorway. The front of the store is reserved for official goods, which gather dust as nobody buys them. When the big event is over, the counterfeit goods are soon in the front of the shop again.
Consumer goods are not the only items that are copied. Western companies have lost much potential income from the theft of technology used in cars, bullet trains, and wind power turbines.
The European Union estimates that 70 per cent of European businesses operating in China say that they have suffered from the piracy of their products. A study from a few years back concluded that such companies lost an equivalent of one fifth of their income to the pirates.