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China says it will address a key Trump demand as trade talks sputter




China has rolled out plans to bolster rules to protect patents, copyrights and trademarks.


Those have become core sticking points in more than a year of trade negotiations with the US.


Intellectual property theft costs American businesses up to $600 billion a year, according to a recent ITA report. 


China has rolled out plans to bolster its rules on patents, copyrights and trademarks, which have become core sticking points in more than a year of trade negotiations with the US. 


In a document released Sunday, the State Council and the Central Committee of the Communist Party said China would strengthen intellectual property protections through higher compensation for rights infringements and stricter enforcement mechanisms.


Rules around patents, copyrights and trademarks have long been a chief complaint against China, helping to ignite a dispute between the largest economies early last year. In a 2018 US International Trade Administration report, it was estimated that intellectual property theft cost American businesses up to $600 billion a year. 


"China's government has gained unauthorized access to a wide range of commercially valuable business information, including trade secrets, technical data, negotiating positions, and sensitive and proprietary internal communications," said US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer. "These acts, policies, or practices by the Chinese government are unreasonable or discriminatory and burden or restrict US commerce."


The move to address intellectual property rules came as China continued efforts to defuse tensions with the Trump administration, which have led to steep tariffs on thousands of products and cast uncertainty on business activity across the globe. 


Trade negotiations have appeared to sputter in recent weeks, despite the October announcement of an interim agreement between the two sides. Ahead of major tariff escalations scheduled for December 15, details of the so-called phase one pact have remained elusive. 


Trump has repeatedly threatened to follow through with plans to tax virtually all imports from China, raising doubts that a more comprehensive trade agreement could be reached anytime soon. 


China estimated it would have a more effective intellectual property protection system in place by 2025. In the report, it did not mention the US but said those efforts would drive "China's economic competitiveness."