I have two more pieces at the Diplomat on the relevance of IP for US-China geopolitical competition. First, there’s a whiff of “WMD” to some US complaints about China’s intellectual property shortcomings:
But it appears that the issue has become less “does China steal?” (which it most assuredly does) and more “what are the strategic consequences of allowing China to access the most innovative technologies in the global economy?” And this is not a problem that the Chinese government can resolve by updating and improving its IP regime. Consequently, it’s an open question whether such steps as a new law to prevent forced technology transfer will actually matter to the United States. One of the most serious complaints about China involves Beijing’s strategy of investing in U.S. technology startups, a technique that secures access to intellectual property while also preventing the United States (because of Department of Defense contracting rules) from acquiring that IP. This problem isn’t caused by lax Chinese IP protection; it’s caused by DoD contracting regulations.
The second column follows that up and thinks about some ways that China might try to restructure the narrative on IP appropriation:
While U.S. allies seem to care quite a lot about whether China steals their technology, they may care somewhat less about the strategic competition between Washington and Beijing. In particular, while the United States appears willing to make significant sacrifices in order to cut into Chinese economic growth, it is hardly obvious that France or Germany are willing to make sacrifices on the same order. In the long run, the United States needs to think very hard about what it is willing to pay in order to undercut Chinese economic growth.