During the campaign, Donald Trump frequently lashed out at communist China as a currency manipulator and as a threat to American stability. He’s now put his words into action.
According to Washington Examiner, starting on Monday, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer will be directed to inspect whether or not China is violating American intellectual property laws.
All told, Mr. Lighthizer will be given a memorandum directing him to see if Beijing engages in sweeping property theft, or if American companies and individuals are forced or coerced to turn over their intellectual property to the Chinese Communist Party.
China’s disrespect for intellectual property is well known. President Trump has himself said that “We [the United States] lose hundreds of billions of dollars a year in trade with China.” A large part of this theft comes from intellectual property violations.
In 2016, China was named as the number one perpetrator of intellectual property theft. A year earlier, a former CIA agent named Chet Nagle wrote an op-ed for Daily Caller showing that the FBI believes that Chinese intellectual property theft increased by fifty-three-percent in between 2013 and 2015. Furthermore, an estimated 165 private American companies have lost billions of dollars.
For the most part, Chinese businesses steal U.S. technologies or patents without providing those companies without paying for the privilege of selling knockout items overseas. This process has the sinister effect of dissuading American inventors and investors from contributing their time and energy into something that will just be stolen by Beijing.
It is very likely that some commentators will disagree with the timing of this investigation. After all, the Trump administration is trying to leverage China’s influence in North Korea in order to stop the rogue regime of Kim Jong-un from building his nuclear arsenal. With North Korea threatening to bomb the American territory of Guam, it may be a bad time to rattle China’s cage.
However, it is undoubtedly true that China has long practiced intellectual property theft that has hurt the American economy. It is also true that Beijing runs an espionage campaign in the U.S. that may include as many as 25,000 operatives.
Along with stealing military secrets, these Chinese agents are almost certainly interested in corporate espionage.
So far, the Trump administration has set a rather small goal for Mr. Ligthizer’s investigation. Rather than focus on all forms of intellectual property theft, the Trump administration is currently zeroed in on whether or not the Chinese government strong-arms American companies into partnering with local firms.
It has been announced that U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer will be directed to inspect whether or not China is violating American intellectual property laws. Should we be investigating China for violating these laws?
The precedent that the Trump administration seeks to use is the 1974 Trade act, which allows the American executive to fast track trade negotiations and deals without the threat of a filibuster.
Chinese intellectual property theft has gone on unhindered for long enough. It is great that President Trump has finally gotten serious about this drain on the American economy that costs millions of dollars every year and adversely impact America’s job market. Private companies should also join in with this investigation, for they are the ones who are most hurt by these thefts.