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China Announces Plans to Strengthen Protection of Intellectual-Property Rights

(Edgar Su/Reuters)

China’s government on Sunday issued a directive aimed at tightening protections for Chinese intellectual-property rights, amid accusations from the U.S. that China has stolen American intellectual property.

The document, released jointly by the General Offices of the Communist Party of China Central Committee and the Chinese State Council, lays out a goal of strengthening intellectual-property-rights protections over the next two years by cracking down on the infringement of such rights.

“Strengthening IPR protection is the most important content of improving the IPR protection system and also the biggest incentive to boost China’s economic competitiveness,” the directive reads, according to excerpts released by the Chinese State Council.

The new guidelines say China will boost its efforts to enhance international cooperation on IPR protection as well.

The measures come while disputes over intellectual-property theft have roiled trade negotiations between China and U.S. as the world’s two largest economies scramble to reach “phase one” of a trade deal.

Last year, an investigation by the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative found that intellectual-property theft by China causes the U.S. to lose between $225 billion and $600 billion a year.

Exacerbating the situation further, the Justice Department in January charged China’s largest smartphone maker, Huawei Technologies Co., with bank fraud and stealing trade secrets. The 13-count indictment alleges that Huawei stole robotic technology designed to test smartphones from American cell-phone company T-Mobile.

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