Trump promises ‘swift’ action on Chinese IP theft, raising prospect of 5G trade war

Trump promises ‘swift’ action on Chinese IP theft, raising prospect of 5G trade war

Following last week’s announcements of steel and aluminum tariffs primarily directed at China and Canada, U.S. President Donald Trump today added that the “U.S. is acting swiftly on Intellectual Property theft,” suggesting imminent action on a long-unresolved issue with China’s government. As Trump’s latest proclamations coincide with recent U.S. government efforts to keep Chinese hardware out of the U.S.’ next-generation 5G cellular networks, analysts now speculate that a “5G wireless trade war” could break out between the countries. Last week, Trump announced that the U.S. will impose 25 and 10 percent tariffs on steel and aluminum, respectively, shielding historically declining U.S. producers from Chinese and Canadian rivals. Trump’s new focus on intellectual property theft addresses a topic all but unique to China. For years, U.S. businesses have complained about Chinese misappropriation of trade secrets and copyrighted works, as well as flagrant violations of patent and trademark rights. While Chinese officials have sometimes intervened on behalf of aggrieved U.S. companies, Chinese IP thieves are notorious for continuing their operations at different locations or under different names, eluding prosecution. On the other hand, Chinese companies have developed significant portfolios of intellectual property over the past decade. Government-backed companies including Huawei and ZTE have been estimated to hold at least 10 percent of key 5G patents, making their cooperation essential to international 5G deployment efforts. Lee suggests that “in the most extreme case of an all-out trade war,” the U.S. might attempt to stop Qualcomm from selling chips to China, leading China to withhold 5G-essential patents from U.S. companies and suppliers, thereby preventing 5G networks from being built.

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Image Credit: Shutterstock / danielo

Following last week’s announcements of steel and aluminum tariffs primarily directed at China and Canada, U.S. President Donald Trump today added that the “U.S. is acting swiftly on Intellectual Property theft,” suggesting imminent action on a long-unresolved issue with China’s government. As Trump’s latest proclamations coincide with recent U.S. government efforts to keep Chinese hardware out of the U.S.’ next-generation 5G cellular networks, analysts now speculate that a “5G wireless trade war” could break out between the countries.

Last week, Trump announced that the U.S. will impose 25 and 10 percent tariffs on steel and aluminum, respectively, shielding historically declining U.S. producers from Chinese and Canadian rivals. While the tariffs were described at the time as stoking fears of a trade war, the impact on China was said to be comparatively small.

Trump’s new focus on intellectual property theft addresses a topic all but unique to China. For years, U.S. businesses have complained about Chinese misappropriation of trade secrets and copyrighted works, as well as flagrant violations of patent and trademark rights. While Chinese officials have sometimes intervened on behalf of…

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