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June 29, 2017

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China hits back at EU over piracy allegations

CHINA has questioned Europol’s recent allegation the Chinese mainland and Hong Kong are the world centers for fake goods, saying it might be an excuse for protectionism.

In 2015, the mainland and Hong Kong “were the provenance of 86 percent of global counterfeiting and US$396.5 billion worth of counterfeit goods,” Europe’s police agency said in a detailed 74-page report, adding that intellectual property theft was “one of the most lucrative criminal enterprises.”

Insiders say there is no method of calculating figures on fake products worldwide, so the data collected by a regional agency is questionable.

“It may be convincing that they have figures for fake Chinese products in Europe, but it is suspicious that they calculated fake products in China and even China’s share of global fake products,” said Zhao Ping with the China Council for the Promotion of International Trade.

The Office of the United States Trade Representative’s said 11 countries, including China, India and Russia, were on the Priority Watch List in its “Special 301 Report” on IPR protection, released in May.

Last year, the office blacklisted four websites and six physical markets in China as “notorious marketplaces” known for the sale of counterfeit goods and violations of IPR.

“We cannot rule out the possibility that they are smearing China’s image on the basis for trade protectionism,” said Zhao.

While it is subject to some debate whether China was the origin of over 80 percent of global counterfeits, intellectual property piracy is indeed a global problem involving production, logistics, sales and consumption.

China is also a victim of counterfeiting. Customs data showed that infringement cases in imports have been increasing at an annual rate of 10 percent. Last year customs seized more than 7.5 million pieces of cargo suspected of IPR infringement, up 13 percent year on year. In one typical case, lubricating oil labeled under famous brand names, such as Shell, was bottled in Malaysia and sold in China.

The commerce ministry has said China is aware of the importance of IPR protection and has made obvious progress in the area.

The country has taken steps to protect IPR as part of its larger effort to create a more innovative economy.


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