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Status quo will not improve China's IP compliance

America's decision to launch an investigation into China's intellectual property (IP) abuses relates primarily to the issue of unfair trading practices (US may end up hurt in trade war with China, by Mr Paul Chan Poh Hoi; Aug 30).

It would be foolhardy for anyone to imagine that such actions can facilitate the onshoring of industrial activities that a country is no longer competitive in.

While China is not the only nation that establishes ground rules for entry into its domestic market - all countries do, including Singapore - it has, unfortunately, stood out for the wrong reasons.

IP theft, counterfeiting, high levels of protection, and so on continue largely unabated.

Will maintaining the status quo really improve Chinese compliance with international patent regulations or advance the interests of IP rights holders seeking recourse? How can foreign companies compete fairly in a market that is heavily skewed towards protecting local firms?

Few would question the ability of the best Chinese companies to out-produce and undercut the competition, abetted by a huge hinterland's economies of scale.

The key question believers of free trade should be asking is whether China and its companies are achieving their commercial goals according to the good faith of bilateral agreements, as well as the best practices set out by established multilateral institutions such as the World Trade Organisation.

Toh Cheng Seong

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on September 03, 2017, with the headline 'Status quo will not improve China's IP compliance'. Print Edition | Subscribe