China must enhance protection of intellectual property rights: Premier Li

SHANGHAI (Reuters) - It is strategically important for China’s economy that the country enhances protection of intellectual property rights, the state news agency Xinhua quoted Premier Li Keqiang as saying, as the cabinet promised to improve regulations.

FILE PHOTO: Chinese Premier Li Keqiang gestures at Malacanang Palace in metro Manila, Philippines November 15, 2017. REUTERS/Dondi Tawatao

Inadequate protection of intellectual property had contributed to the decline in private investment, he added.

Companies and foreign business lobbies have often accused China of doing too little to rein in risks related to intellectual property rights, despite having anti-piracy laws.

To protect these rights better, the State Council, or cabinet, said the government would look into punitive fines for infringements.

The cabinet plans to increase costs for those caught infringing on intellectual property rights, and will make rights protection more affordable, Xinhua said.

Private businesses will enjoy equal rights similar to public sector companies, it quoted a statement following a cabinet meeting chaired by Li as saying.

“Enhancing the protection of intellectual property rights is a matter of overall strategic significance, and it is vital for the development of the socialist market economy,” Li said.

“Deficiency in (property rights protection) is a main cause for the slide in private investment... The wider opening up of the country calls for enhancing IPR protection.”

The cabinet vowed to “clear, revise or abolish” regulations or documents that were contradictory to the 2007 Property Rights Law and 2016 guidelines on improving property rights protection.

“Wayward and arbitrary” law enforcement would be strictly prevented, it added.IPR law enforcement will be channeled towards cases related to the internet, exports and imports, as well as rural and urban areas, where counterfeiting is rampant.

Reporting by John Ruwitch; Editing by Sherry Jacob-Phillips