Minutes - TRIPS Council - View details of the intervention/statement

Ambassador Karen Tan (Singapore)
58. The representative of China said that, with respect to the so called financial crisis related IP issue, China's determination to further improve its IP situation ran from its highest leaders down to the field handlers and would not be affected by inappropriate factors, including the financial crisis. However, as one could never rule out isolated cases of such remarks, his delegation would verify any information that the European Communities could share. 59. He said that, while the credibility of figures and statistics could be discussed forever, the point was that counterfeiting and piracy was a global issue that existed not merely because infringing products were produced somewhere, but also because there were markets, trans shipments, importers and consumers of such products. While China mainly combated the infringements by producers, retailers and wholesalers, his delegation hoped that something could also be done about the consumers. With regard to the issue of whether the results of China's efforts were concrete and tangible, he said that the results of China's civil and administrative enforcement procedures were well illustrated by the information provided under Annex 1A of section 18. He said that this dual system was something specific to China not comparable to most other Members. China also had criminal procedures in place that had been upheld by a dispute settlement panel, as well as bilateral and multilateral mechanisms which could go through these issues and try to improve them to make results more concrete and tangible. 60. Regarding the EC comments regarding unanswered questions, he said that his delegation had only received the EC communication one week before the meeting. The communication consisted of nine pages of 35 questions which touched on areas relating to various ministries, regional governments and also the judicial system. It had been extremely difficult for his delegation to collect this information, translate the questions from English into Chinese and the answers from Chinese into English, and complete the requirements of their internal system for verification and approval, and he apologized for this. There were, however, also some questions that his delegation had found difficult to answer, since they had been based on pure assumptions that had not been substantiated. For example, paragraph 11 of the EC submission had stated that it had been felt in many cases that the information required for document verification had gone beyond the scope necessary for approval or authorization. Without any substantiating information regarding the cases and the information required, it was extremely difficult for governments to verify and answer such questions. 61. Another example in this regard were the questions in paragraph 21 which related to various retail and wholesale markets in Beijing City. The European Communities had asked: "can China indicate which action it intends to take to definitely clean out the markets from counterfeit products." As a non native English speaker, he had looked up the dictionary definition of the formulation "clean out", which had indicated that it had a very strong meaning along the lines of "to deprive of any", so that there should be no more incidents like that. He said that while any Member could commit itself to clean out any counterfeit products from its retail or wholesale markets, it was something that was realistically impossible for anyone. In the same way that a doctor could not guarantee that a child would never cough again after treatment, or a policeman could not guarantee the end of illegal parking after issuing a parking ticket, in the same way the laws were there to prevent IP infringements from happening, but it was impossible to guarantee their complete end. What could be done, however, if the European Communities could share information regarding specific cases with his delegation, was that China could address them on a case by case basis. In the remaining questions in paragraph 21, the European Communities had simply requested China's agreement to the view that its police needed to be involved and that infringements needed to be addressed, and so forth. Theoretically speaking, of course, China and all Members could agree to these kinds of assumptions, because they were theoretically correct. But in practice, as illustrated by the information provided under Annex 1A, these actions had already been taken. If the European Communities wanted China to revise its onerous formality requirement for enforcement, it would help to specify how onerous and expensive they really were. He expressed doubts whether, compared to Europe, anything could be expensive in China. China appreciated Members' interest in its IP system and looked forward to further dynamic and meaningful interaction with them both bilaterally and multilaterally.