Myths about intellectual property theft poison relations between US and China
The Americans were keen thieves of technological knowledge from Britain in the 19th century
It has become politically correct in the US to call China a thief, bent on stealing US intellectual property (IP). In 2018, this rhetoric was formalised in a “Section 301” investigation by the US trade representative. President Donald Trump used allegations of state-sponsored IP theft as justification to trigger a prolonged trade war between the countries.
This week, the US and China are due to sign phase one of a trade deal to lessen tensions, under which China will boost imports from the US in return for a reduction in US tariffs. But the allegations of IP theft continue to sow mistrust between the two sides, bringing a long, co-operative relationship to the verge of collapse.