China anti-piracy battle "will take generations"
By Ben Blanchard
Thu Oct 18, 6:46 AM ET
China's battle against intellectual property rights piracy will take "generations," a senior official said on Thursday, but added the main victims were Chinese and other countries should stop politicizing the issue.
Chinese IPR chief Tian Lipu said the government did not fear the United State's decision to take China to the World Trade Organization over complaints of widespread counterfeiting.
"Have you ever heard of another country whose whole leadership, including the president, study together intellectual property rights?" Tian asked reporters on the sidelines of a Communist Party Congress.
"I've been working in this field for years, and I've not heard of any other country doing this. But this happens in China," said the casually-dressed official.
China regularly defends its record on fighting piracy, saying it is a developing country and needs time. But pirated movies and music discs are openly sold in shops and on street corners in Chinese cities for as little as 8 yuan (about $1) a copy.
"Is IPR protection a problem? Yes, it is. But is it as serious as some say? Not necessarily. To a greater degree, it's hyped-up, politicized. We cannot accept that," said Tian.
"In fact, if China does not do well, the biggest victim will be China itself."
Tian said he had been taken to the northern province of Shandong to see an anti-piracy sweep where counterfeit DVDs and CDs had been rounded up.
"We discovered something -- more than 90 percent of the pirated discs were of Chinese artists," he said.
What China really lacked was awareness about why it was important to protect intellectual property rights. It was only in 2000 that the Chinese expression for IPR protection started appearing in dictionaries, Tian said.
"How long did it take developed countries? 300 years in the case of countries like Britain, or 200 years in the United States," he said. "One generation is not enough here. If you ask me, I estimate it will take three to five generations."
Piracy is a hot political potato.
In April, the United States lodged a complaint with the WTO over Chinese counterfeiting, which followed congressional anger over last year's record $232 billion U.S. trade deficit with China.
Tian brushed off the case.
"The U.S. has taken China to the WTO over IPR. I think China is not scared about this. The facts will prove our point of view," he said.
Reuters report on Internet at: http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20071018/wl_nm/china_party_piracy_dc&printer=1;_ylt=Av9vX_6j4w.3jdULh8KCRGFn.3QA
Comment by me: Reading this sort of nonsense makes me regret my choice of academic study: contemporary Chinese politics. It is same humiliating argument as made by regime apologists for China not becoming democratic within our life times (see my posting about my interaction at the Central Party School below).