China has condemned a recent report from the European Union’s law enforcement agency that accused the nation of being the main source of counterfeit goods in the European Union ("EU"), calling the report and its findings "irresponsible" and reiterating its efforts to crackdown on intellectual property right violations in its markets.
According to the report, which is issued in a collaboration between the European Union Intellectual Property Office and Europol, China remained by far the main country of provenance for counterfeit products in the EU, with Hong Kong acting as a transit point for goods originally manufactured in China.
"The report's accusations are irresponsible," Chinese Commerce Ministry spokesman Sun Jiwen told reporters in Beijing this week. "The authenticity and objectivity of the statistics presented by the report should be further studied."
According to Reuters, "The report cited statistics from a U.S. Chamber of Commerce study which estimated that 72 percent of counterfeit goods in circulation in three of the world's largest markets for such products, namely the European Union, Japan and the United States, were exported from China in 2016. Counterfeit goods were estimated to have amounted to approximately 12.5 percent of China's total exports and over 1.5 percent of its gross domestic product in 2016, it said."
Jiwen said China would continue its "intense crackdown" on intellectual property right violations, in particular exports of health-related consumer goods and materials for large-scale infrastructure investment.
The EU-specific report comes after the Office of the United States Trade Representative (“USTR”) released its 2017 “Special 301” Report in May. Unsurprisingly, China – a routine "Priority Watch List" country – is highlighted due to both “longstanding and new IP concerns [that] strongly merit attention.”
As set forth in the report, an annual intellectual property watch list that was released earlier this month, “China is home to widespread infringing activity, including trade secret theft, rampant online piracy and counterfeiting, and high levels of physical pirated and counterfeit exports to markets around the globe. China imposes requirements that U.S. firms develop their IP in China or transfer their IP to Chinese entities as a condition to accessing the Chinese market.”
Chinese authorities similarly lashed out in response to the Special 301 Report. Jiwen told press in May that the U.S. report "lacks objective standards and fairness, and has been broadly opposed by relevant countries." He further claimed, "China pays great attention to protecting intellectual property, has taken many effective measures and the situation continues to improve. The results are apparent to all."
He further turned the tables, telling press that the United States should fulfill its promises to evaluate China's efforts on IP protection fairly and objectively.