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.

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