Michael Auslin

Technology theft goes both ways – as China is discovering

Beijing is starting to worry that the rest of the world will steal its advanced technology. The Chinese military is calling for stronger protection of the country’s intellectual property, particularly in sensitive defence areas. Supercomputers, drones, rocket launchers and the like, were singled out as areas where ‘generations’ of Chinese research cannot be allowed to be put at risk.

Give China credit where it’s due: not in its technology, but in its gall.

China is the world’s largest or second-largest economy (depending on how you count) because of its size, its hard-working labor force, its focus on STEM education, its relentless government policy, etc, etc.

But also because it cheats. China has been robbing the West blind for decades, stealing everything from private business innovations to nearly every US defence program. Wonder why Chinese companies undercut American solar panel businesses? Surprised at how China’s next-generation stealth fighter looks exactly like the F-22 Raptor? Because the intellectual property has been stolen. Terrabytes, petabytes of material has been siphoned off for years, from the US and every major country. Much, if not a majority, of this theft is supported directly by the Chinese government, and special units of the People’s Liberation Army have been turned into cyber shock battalions which target Western businesses.

Even when the Chinese don’t steal, they use other means to gain every edge necessary to supplant American businesses. US companies that do business in China are pressured to give up their intellectual property (and if they don’t, then the stealing often comes in). The innocuous-sounding ‘Made in China 2025’ policy is a government plan to make China a manufacturing leader and the dominant producer in a range of economic sectors, most notably next-generation information technology and high-end numerical control machinery and robots, but also aerospace and aviation equipment, ‘smart’ energy technologies, new materials, and biomedicine and high-performance medical devices. How

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