(The Telegraph) US Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner has accused China of “systematically stealing” American companies’ intellectual property in an unusually blunt attack.
“They have made possible systematic stealing of intellectual property of American companies and have not been very aggressive to put in place the basic protections,” Mr Geither said on Friday at a conference in the US capital, where finance chiefs from the G20 countries are meeting this weekend.
The directness of Mr Geithner’s comments reflect the administration’s rising frustration with some of China’s politics, as well as the pressure Congress is exerting on the White House to act on the issue.
Earlier this week, Gary Locke, the US Ambassador in China, told an audience in Beijing that the Chinese government must accelerate its reforms. Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao, in turn, said this month that the country has reformed enough to merit “market economy status” under World Trade Organization rules.
Mr Geithner said China’s approach was “you want to sell to our country, we want you to come produce here. If you want to come produce here, you need to transfer your technology to us.”
With the US and several European economies coming close to recession again, policymakers, including World Bank President Robert Zoellick, have warned of the dangers of protectionism as countries battle for a share of a shrinking pie.
In the US, anger is typically focused on Beijing’s policy of holding down its currency to help China’s manufacturers. But this week a coalition of more than 50 US business groups told Congress that trying to force China to ditch its currency policy may be counter-productive. Energy should, instead, be focused on safeguarding US intellectual property in China and doing more to lift the restrictions for foreign companies, they said.