Has China copied America’s IP suspicion?


Anything the US can do, China can do better. Or at least cheaper.

Despite efforts by the country's government to crack down on counterfeiters, Chinese business culture's relaxed attitude towards intellectual property remains a sticking point for many Western companies.

Indeed it is the fear of IP theft, not ideological differences or moral opposition, that has capped exploitation of the world's most populous economy.

But according to a new report from security software vendor McAfee, the feeling is mutual.

In its recently published Unsecured Economies Report, the company claims that 47% of Chinese companies believe the greatest threat to their intellectual property is the United States.

It is tempting to see this statistic as either nationalistic hyprocrisy, or the result of China's formidable propaganda machine. But it is important to keep our own prejudices in check. Perhaps there are US organisaitions spying on Chinese businesses. After all, this is the culture that coined the term 'industrial espionage'.

But if China really is an unrecognised victim in the IP war, it has its work cut out for it persuading the rest of the world. McAfee's report found that 25% of companies from the around the globe avoid doing business in China for security reasons.

Pete Swabey

Pete Swabey

Pete was Editor of Information Age and head of technology research for Vitesse Media plc from 2005 to 2013, before moving on to be Senior Editor and then Editorial Director at The Economist Intelligence...

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