China, US to step up co-op on IPR law enforcement

UPDATED: 17:35, June 15, 2007

Mou Xinsheng, director general of the General Administration of Customs of China (GACC), who just returned to Beijing from the second meeting of US-China Strategic Economic Dialogue held in Washington D.C. on May 22-23, has had an exclusive interview with People's Daily reporter Luo Lan on the "Cooperation Memorandum on Strengthening the Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) Law Enforcement. The questions and answers of the interview are as follow:

Q: You signed the "Cooperation Memorandum on Strengthening the Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) Law Enforcement in Washington, D.C., with Ralph Basham, commissioner of US Customs and Border Protection on May 22, whereas earlier, on April 10, the US government filed the World Trade Organization (WTO) cases against China over inadequate protection of IPR. Then, what do you think of these two matters in such a short span of time?

A: Indeed, the United States has had a lot of censures or complaints on our IPR protection and its attitude is unyielding. We have repeatedly urged the US side to report to the Chinese side the information on the imported IPR-infringed goods originally from China so as to enable the Chinese customs to beef up the law enforcement with a clear aim, but so far there has been no effective response.

In mid December of 2006, the US side proposed to China its demand to sign the IPR customs border law enforcement protection cooperation memorandum between the two sides and provided a suggestive copy of a cooperation memorandum. The related work, however, has suspended temporarily as the American side decided in April to subject to Sino-US IPR disputes to the WTO dispute settlement mechanism.

Then, how can both sides come to work together after ups and downs. Here, I suppose, a number of factors have not to be overlooked. First, with a booming international economic and trade ties at present, not a single nation can resolve IPR infringement by itself behind the closed door. The Chinese government, including its general customs office, has always initiated for intensified international cooperation to cope with IPR infringing and law-violating actions. To this end, the Chinese government has signed Agreement on Customs Mutual Administrative Assistance with more than 30 countries globally and most of which have prioritized the contents of IPR border law enforcement.

Besides, China and the U.S. take each other as an important trade partner and so it is vital and imperative for them to join hands to deal crushing blows at those pirated goods in circulation in either of the two countries. The customs of both nations can also share their experience, use resources jointly and work together to intensify their effort for IPR protection.

In short, I deem that thorny issues in Sino-US trade relations, including IPR, should take viable measures through an active mutual-cooperation instead of resorting to pressures or antagonistic means to impose one's ideas upon the other. In the contemporary economic globalization, I think the American side should come to recognize that confrontation is futile while the imposition of pressures can only make these problems more complex still.

Q. In what aspects will China and the U.S. carry out their cooperation in line with the cooperation memorandum signed this time?

A. Personally, I feel the contents of the memorandum are concrete and serviceable, and customs of both sides can unfold cooperation in the following spheres:

First and foremost, step up communication in the sphere of law-enforcement practice skills, including the communication in legal regimes of both sides, and in risk analysis of IPR-infringed goods, risk control and other relevant law-enforcement techniques. Second, beef up an exchange of visits by personnel at the general customs administrative bodies and their subordinate ports. Third, exchange data for the sake of law enforcement and, fourth, report to each other the information about individual IPR-breaching cases.

Moreover, we should also make concerned efforts to carry out cooperation in professional fields.

Q. As what we can now see is a memorandum merely on the paper, then how can we translate its contents into reality?

A. This, I'm sure, requires efforts of both sides. As far as the Chinese customs are concerned, we should first of all select the suitable liaison persons in compliance with the requirements of the memorandum in a bid to ensure an unblocked channel to the US customs and to pave the way for the smooth cooperation between the customs of the two nations.

Second, we should set up an internal mechanism to ensure a fast response while going in for cooperative items with the US customs and border protection and guarantee the effect of cooperation.

Thirdly, also a crucial point; that is to take the signing of the memorandum as a pivot, and so we should all the more intensify the IPR protection, including the input of the human, financial and material resources, raise the law-enforcement levels and mete out effecting blows to IPR-breaking activities.

Finally, we should track the ensuing appraisals of the effect of cooperation while maintaining in contact with the US custom offices, delving into how to study and tackle new circumstances and new issues that have emerged in the course of cooperation.

By People's Daily Online

People's Daily Online ---