- - Friday, April 27, 2012

Intellectual-property theft by China has emerged in recent years as a significant threat to American businesses, American jobs and the American economy. Companies both in the United States and abroad can spend countless years and money on research and development to innovate and improve, only to have their work stolen with just a few strokes of a keyboard.

You do not have to look far to find victims of Chinese intellectual-property theft.

In 2010, American businessman Jordan Fishman was awarded a $26 million judgment in a Virginia federal court jury trial against Shandong Linglong Tyre Co., a Chinese tire company found liable for copyright and trademark infringement, civil conspiracy and conversion for stealing Mr. Fishman’s blueprints and counterfeiting his company’s design in the production of mining tires.

Knowing that the blueprints were stolen, Shandong Linglong officials consciously made the decision to move forward with production, lining their pockets with ill-gotten gains. Before stealing Mr. Fishman’s work, Shandong Linglong had never once produced a mining tire.

Rather than pay damages, the Chinese company is using its significant financial resources to tie up the case in appellate court, killing American jobs at Mr. Fishman’s company and pushing Mr. Fishman toward the brink of bankruptcy.

Eagle Forum founder Phyllis Schlafly was correct in her assessment of China’s antagonistic relationship with American intellectual-property laws when she said, “China uses our myopia about free trade to cheat us coming and going, steal our patents and manufacturing secrets, and violate the rules of the World Trade Organization to which they agreed when they joined. Communist China’s strategy is to spend and spy and steal to become the No. 1 superpower in the 21st century.”

Military and intelligence officials, such as former National Security Agency Director Mike McConnell, former Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff and former Deputy Defense Secretary William J. Lynn III reached the same conclusion in a chilling Op-Ed in the Wall Street Journal, stating, “Evidence indicates that China intends to help build its economy by intellectual-property theft rather than by innovation and investment in research and development.”

Intellectual-property theft, though, could be only the beginning of the threat to the American economy. Chinese corporate espionage is also damaging our economy on a daily basis. As the Chinese gain more knowledge about our intelligence apparatus, our nation could be vulnerable to crippling cyberattacks to our military forces, financial networks and energy infrastructure.

Is China a friend or a foe to the United States in the 21st century? The answer is that China is a challenge. Our nation cannot continue to stand by idly while China blatantly refuses to play by the rules. If China refuses to address the problem, America must be willing to act. We must stop Chinese currency manipulation and exert unified international pressure against the systemic intellectual-property theft that has allowed China’s economy to profit through criminal activity.

In addition, the American intelligence community must tear down the barriers between agencies and improve not only their interagency communication, but also their communication with the business and research communities threatened by corporate espionage.

President Theodore Roosevelt famously highlighted a West African proverb that stated that to go far, one needed to speak softly and carry a big stick. A century later, America would be wise to remember this doctrine in dealing with the challenge posed by China.

David Dewhurst is lieutenant governor of Texas and a candidate for U.S. Senate. He served in the U.S. Air Force and CIA before founding Falcon Seaboard, an energy and investment company.

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