xi's moments

Ministry decries inclusion on 'notorious' list

By Jing Shuiyu in Beijing and Hong Xiao in New York | China Daily | Updated: 2018-01-19 09:35

The Ministry of Commerce challenged on Thursday the objectivity and accountability of "notorious markets" list by the United States.

The list, released by the Office of the US Trade Representative last week, blacklisted three Chinese online platforms and six physical markets over alleged sale of counterfeit products. Taobao.com, Alibaba Group's e-commerce platform, and Silk Market, a shopping center in Beijing, were included in the list.

Gao Feng, the ministry's spokesman, said the trade representative's findings were undermined by vague wordings and a lack of conclusive evidence.

"The findings, frequently using words like 'reportedly' and 'right holders' to describe Chinese companies' commercial activities, lack concrete evidence and data support," he said at a news conference.

The trade representative said on its website that the report does not reflect findings of legal violations or the US government's analysis of the general intellectual property rights protection and enforcement climate in the country concerned.

That claim seems to conceal the untenable findings, Gao said.

For years, the Chinese government and Chinese companies have been strengthening intellectual property rights protections. In the first three quarters of 2017, the country dealt with over 110,000 infringement and counterfeit product cases, according to the ministry.

"In light of all this, it's clear that no matter how much action we take and progress we make, the USTR is not actually interested in seeing tangible results," Alibaba's president, Mike Evans, said in a recent blog post.

"Therefore, our inclusion on its list is not an accurate representation of Alibaba's results in protecting brands and IP, and we have no other choice but to conclude that this is a deeply flawed, biased and politicized process."

The "notorious markets" blacklist derives from Section 301 of the US Trade Act of 1974, which authorizes the US president to take unilateral action against foreign countries deemed to be burdening or restricting US commerce.

"The ministry hopes trade frictions between two sides will not escalate. We will firmly ensure China's legitimate rights and interests," Gao, from the Commerce Ministry, said. "It would be constructive to see both sides resolve trade and commercial disputes in a smooth way."

The US Congress also proposed a bill that prohibits any government agency from working with Chinese firm Huawei Technologies Co and ZTE Corp last week.

The bill, titled H.R. 4747: "Defending US Government Communications Act," references several reports raising national security concerns due to the growth of China's telecom sector.

Gao said the proposal, to some extent, sent the "wrong signal" to the global market.

"It (the proposal) is not conducive to the Sino-US cooperation on the information and communication industry, and shakes Chinese enterprises' confidence in the US business and investment environment," he said.

The ministry urged the US to give objective and fair treatment to Chinese enterprises and products.

Cui Tiankai, China's ambassador to the US, said both the Chinese and the US economies need an open and inclusive, more balanced and sustainable economic globalization with benefits more adequately shared with all countries.

"Of course, we are both facing challenges, such as uncertainty in the global economy's growth, international financial turbulence," he said at the China General Chamber of Commerce - USA Chinese Lunar New Year of the Dog Gala in New York on Wednesday night.

Trade between China and the US reached 3.95 trillion yuan ($619.6 billion) in value in 2017, up by 15.2 percent from a year earlier. China, in the meantime, gained a trade surplus of 1.87 trillion yuan, climbing 13 percent year-on-year, according to the General Administration of Customs.

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