Thursday, June 13, 2013

• Protecting American High-End Research as China Rises

Protecting American High-End Research as China Rises
by DIDI KIRSTEN TATLOW - Wednesday, June 12, 2013


China is carrying the greatest intellectual heist of history in its systematic transfer of the advanced research and development of other nations to China

BEIJING — If the authors of a new book, “Chinese Industrial Espionage,” are right, and China is carrying the greatest intellectual heist of history in its systematic transfer of the advanced research and development of other nations — including the West, Japan and elsewhere — to China, what can the world do to protect its intellectual property?

As Edward Wong and I reported recently in The New York Times, and I explored further today in a Letter from China about the “whys” of the situation, the authors, William C. Hannas, James Mulvenon and Anna B. Puglisi, who do research for the United States government, write that since the mid-1950s China has engaged in a meticulous campaign to bring the world’s technology to China in ways that are legal, illegal and, mostly, “extralegal,” because they’re hidden from view.

The campaign is intended as “a shortcut to development,” they write. One way it’s done is by appealing to the patriotic sentiments of the hundreds of thousands of Chinese who study and live abroad to “bring back” their knowledge to serve China.

To readers who may say China’s efforts to gather foreign technology are “normal business practice,” they write: “It is neither ‘normal’ nor ‘business,’ but a state-sponsored assault on foreign invention that includes every dodge and malpractice up to and including espionage — then goes beyond espionage through a Gulag of ‘transfer centers’ that ensure the pillage goes into products.” Importantly to the authors, they caution that while the problem needs to be addressed, it must not be allowed to turn into suspicions of Chinese and Chinese-Americans.

Frank H. Wu, a law school dean and member of the Committee of 100, a Chinese-American advocacy group, agrees. In their conclusion, the authors, who called the transfer policies “unfair” in written answers to questions, have suggestions how it can be stopped. They warn that the individualism valued by many Americans is a weakness: America must “find ways as a nation to take collective action against the common threat.”

Some suggestions: overall, America needs “a better understanding of the benefits and costs” of having very large numbers of Chinese students studying on its campuses, to stop “illicit technology transfers by students,” they write. America’s export control system needs to be reformed. And it needs to get technology transfer and espionage onto the agenda of the Strategic and Economic Dialogue, the high-level, ongoing talks between China and the United States, they write.

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