- - Thursday, June 6, 2019

As the co-founder and CEO of a nationally award-winning startup based here in the greater Washington, D.C., area, I’m militantly pro-free trade. This is so even though our primary products are 100 percent proudly “made in America.”

Free trade is crucial to American and world prosperity. And freer trade with lower tariffs means lower taxes.

Nevertheless, free trade does not invite piracy.

Free trade isn’t a license to steal — whether it is through the theft of money and property or the pilfering of intellectual property.

Free trade is legitimate commerce conducted in the context of the full respect for property rights. Piracy, counterfeiting, theft and other abusive practices are criminal. Nobody confuses the Mafia with the Chamber of Commerce.

The company I co-founded was shocked a couple of years ago to discover that one of our proprietary, IP-protected products was being counterfeited and offered for sale in the United States. This knock-off was poorly executed, potentially dangerous to the buyer and susceptible of being confused with our legitimate product.

This fraud came from China. I’m a front-line victim of Beijing’s abusive trade practices that President Trump is trying to halt. The White House estimates that each year China steals to $300 billion of our patents and copyrights from American companies. Mine is one of them.

I am a red-blooded American raised in Southern California, and am related to a distinguished lineage of Chinese civic leaders. One of my ancestors, Li Yuanhong, was twice the president of the Republic of China.

My great-aunt, under the pen name of Nieng Cheng, wrote a best-selling memoir of the cultural revolution, “Life and Death in Shanghai.” This became one of President Reagan’s favorite books. Mr. Reagan honored her at a White House State dinner. In his diary, Mr. Reagan termed her his dinner partner, calling her “an amazing woman.”

Thus, China’s current sly disregard for integrity in trade is an insult to my ancestral culture. China’s authentic culture exalts honorable conduct. As Confucius said in The Analects, “The virtuous man is driven by responsibility, the non-virtuous man is driven by profit.” Beijing is overdue to mend its ways.

I then was dismayed to read that Jack Ma, founder of Alibaba, had the temerity to publicly claim that China’s pirated goods “are of better quality and of better price than the real names.” This was untrue for us. It is untrue for many others. Even if true it would not exonerate piracy. Jack Ma should be ashamed.

My company isn’t given to “crying victim.”

Thus, our own response to the (failed) attempt to pillage us was to put the pedal to the metal in improving our product even faster, leaving the pirates in our wake.

Because the pirates are riding along behind us, stealing with both hands, however, a national response is appropriate and long overdue. Now, the right response is, finally, emerging from this White House. President Trump’s response is a great thing.

Mr. Trump is gathering some praise for his courageous stand from both political parties. He deserves a loud three cheers. Maybe a 21-gun salute.

Bonnie Girard gets to the root of the problem in her column at The Diplomat, “Why the US-China Trade Negotiations Are Stuck.” It’s about “relationship.” America has consistently been generous with China.

“These efforts have brought a mixed bag of both benefit and harm to the United States, a situation which the Trump administration is determined to adjust in America’s favor.

How has this relationship brought us harm?

The Chinese character guan, means “closed.” The character xi means “system.”

That’s right — guanxi means “closed system.” It doesn’t mean “relationship” at all, particularly in the Western sense of the word. Thus, having guanxi, building guanxi, and using guanxi really means having access to a closed

system of relationships that can make things work in your favor.

That system in olden days was rooted in imperial, dynastic China. Today its power resides in the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).

China is notorious for insularity. Now, in resuming its place among the great powers of the world — long overdue — China must live by the noble ethics of Confucius, Lao-Tzu, Sun Yat-sen and Deng Xiaoping.

As Sun Yat-Sen, the father of republican China, wrote in “The Three Principles of the People,” “We should use our old moral values and our love of peace as the foundation of national reconstruction; and look forward to the day when we shall become leaders in world reconstruction upon lines of international justice and good will.”

Donald Trump is taking a stand for China’s own “old moral values” by imposing consequences on those who violate such values in international trade. President Trump deserves praise from all Americans and from honorable people everywhere. Free trade can only be sustained in a culture of “no piracy allowed.”

• Justin Li is the co-founder, lead inventor and CEO of Qore Performance Inc. of McLean, Virginia.

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