silkalley.jpgPeter
Mandelson, the European Union's headline-grabbing trade minister, is on
a five-day trip to China and he does not like what he has seen.

To be precise, he does not like the abundant evidence that Chinese
officials continues to turn a blind eye to the blatant disregard of
European intellectual property rights in China.

He said that this counterfeiting was a huge drain on European
competitiveness and China was the source of more than half of
counterfeit goods intercepted at EU borders in 2005.

Fake products are no longer confined to luxury items like Louis
Vuitton handbags. They now include food, electrical appliances, car and
aircraft parts, and medicine and birth control pills. The IPR abuses
include intangibles like television and music rights.

The failure by Chinese karaoke bars to pay royalties on European music is costing rights holders about €14m a year, for example.

Mandelson said he was disappointed by the lack of progress made in
enforcing a law passed in 2001 for Chinese broadcasters, such as the
official state station CCTV, to pay royalties to European copyright
holders.

To combat the counterfeiters, Mandelson called for lower thresholds
for prosecutable IPR offences, tougher sentencing of offenders and
action in cleaning up street markets, such as Beijing's Silk Street.

This infamous outdoor bazaar, also known as Xiushui market, was
demolished last year and trade moved to a brand-new building
(pictured). Although there are fewer counterfeit western goods than
there used to be, locals tell us they can still be found.

Mandelson got a lot of publicity for his tough words, but when he
jets back to Brussels, we have a suspicion that things will stay pretty
much the same.

More in this article in the International Herald Tribune or, for a contrasting Chinese view, try this article in China Daily titled “Take it Easy on China.”

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