China Downplays Chances for Talks, Pledges Economic Defense
Comment of the Day

May 17 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

China Downplays Chances for Talks, Pledges Economic Defense

This article from Bloomberg news may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

China’s state media signaled a lack of interest in resuming trade talks with the U.S. under the current threat of higher tariffs, while the government said stimulus will be stepped up to buttress the domestic economy.

Without new moves that show the U.S. is sincere, it is meaningless for its officials to come to China and have trade talks, according to a commentary by the blog Taoran Notes, which was carried by state-run Xinhua News Agency and the People’s Daily, the Communist Party’s mouthpiece. The Ministry of Commerce spokesman said Thursday he had no information about any U.S. officials coming to Beijing for further talks.

Eoin Treacy's view

China running ahead of the USA on patent filings has been a common statistic quoted to highlight the country’s growing incentive to uphold intellectual property laws. What is less commented on is what these patents are for.

This article by Chinapower may be of interest. Here is a section:

While patent data provides insight into comparative levels of innovation across borders, this approach has limitations. China grants patents based on a different set of characteristics than other countries. Chinese patents are subclassified into highly innovative “invention patents” and lower quality “utility model” and “design” patents. The latter two categories require a much lower standard of innovation than do invention patents. According to CNIPA, just 19 percent of all patents granted in China in 2017 were classified as “invention” patents. This number suggests that China’s large volume of applications may not accurately represent an increase in its level of technological innovation.

Furthermore, a lack of substantive technological improvements in patents may, in part, be incentivized by government policies that emphasize quantity over quality. By filing for patents, Chinese companies can receive cash bonuses, subsidies, and even lower corporate income taxes from the government. In many cases these incentives trickle down to the company level, with firms like Huawei offering patent-related bonuses to employees.

This kind of granularity of data helps to explain why China is not already upholding patents despite propaganda claims of technological leadership. The fact is the country has benefitted enormously from reading patents in other countries and deploying the technology domestically or copying the patent. Even that is just one small portion of the technology transfer demands imposed on foreign companies doing business in China. It is not an unreasonable request for the global community to ask for a level playing field but it is something China can’t possibly uphold if they wish to continue progressing technologically

We have to consider the fact that the ultimate aim of the tariffs is to deflate China’s growing global ambitions. The play-along-to-get-along mantra that has prevailed since the end of the Cold War appears to be over. That is setting up a more combative atmosphere where trade and geopolitical tensions are two halves of the same coin. That is setting up a scenario where China and the USA will compete for both markets and allies which is likely to lead to a more volatile environment overall.

Back to top

You need to be logged in to comment.

New members registration