The Chinese government has launched a new crackdown on product piracy after continued pressure from Western governments.
Announcing the move at a press conference, a deputy commerce minister, Jiang Zengwei promised closer cooperation with the United States, Japan and Europe.
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The crackdown comes after the World Trade Organisation sided with the USA in January in a complaint that China wasn’t doing enough to enforce patents, copyright and trademarks. The World Trade Organisation decision could open the doors to allow the US to claim compensation from China and even to impose trade sanctions.
When most of us think about product piracy in China, we usually think about software, DVDs, luxury brand name goods and the ubiquitous watch salesmen hawking their wares wherever tourists are found. However, there is a far more serious side to the matter with a growth in the fake medicine market. American officials say fake Chinese-made heart and anti-cancer drugs have been found as far away as Africa.
It is not unusual for the Chinese government to announce crackdowns on piracy, but, in the past, these crackdowns have not always been enforced as rigorously as the west would like. There has also been a tendency for the authorities to overlook smalltime offenders or copies of CDs and DVDs, for example, that have not been passed by the state censors and are therefore not available through official channels.
In the software market though, the Chinese Government has already met with some success.
After introducing legislation forcing all computers sold in China to be sold with an operating system installed a few years ago, the number of PCs shipped with legitimate software has risen from 88% in 2007 to 98% in 2009.