Mandelson appeals to China to fight piracy

Beijing, November 8:

European Union (EU) trade commissioner Peter Mandelson appealed to China today to stamp out widespread product piracy that he said hurts European companies.

“Counterfeiting, officially here in China, is a drain on Europe’s competitiveness,” Mandelson said at a news conference after meeting Chinese officials in charge of enforcing patents and copyrights.

“I am pressing the Chinese government to toughen criminal sanctions for IP violations,” he said, referring to intellectual property. “We are pressing China hard.” Mandelson said he appealed to Chinese commerce minister Bo Xilai in a meeting yesterday to end China’s policy of requiring European companies to transfer technology to Chinese partners, and to see that companies make required royalty payments on patented technology.

Mandelson complained that Chinese broadcasters, including the main state television network, are failing to pay royalties for European programming despite a regulations issued in 2001 by Beijing. He said the Chinese government says it expects to miss a deadline for enforcing these royalties by the end of this year.

“I am disappointed by this,” he said. EU and other governments say illegal Chinese copying of music, software, designer clothes and other goods costs them billions of dollars a year in lost potential sales.

Mandelson said the problem now extends beyond luxury goods to include fake aircraft parts and anti-AIDS drugs. Half of the counterfeit goods intercepted at European borders came from China, he said.

Yesterday, European officials signed an agreement to provide technical help to a new network of 50 government offices throughout China that will receive and investigate complaints of patent copyright and trademark violations.

Piracy has gutted China’s own creative industries, draining away revenues from software producers, film studies and music companies. The government says about 80 per cent of intellectual property rights lawsuits are filed by Chinese companies. Mandelson was also due to attend a conference in the southwestern city of Chengdu this week aimed at helping Chinese and European companies make business connections.

“We are organising a major ‘speed dating’ encounter between 500 European companies and 500 Chinese companies,” he said. “Hopefully these blind dates will lead to romance and then marriage.”

Record trade surplus

BEIJING: China’s trade surplus hit a record $23.8 billion in October. The surplus came about as a result of exports hitting $88.1 billion, an increase of 29.6 per cent when compared with the same month a year ago, the customs authorities said on their website. Imports reached $64.3 billion last month, a rise of 14.7 per cent from a year earlier. — AFP