Elsa and Xi Jinping (6) Intellectual Property

Dear Xi:

I would like to return to the topic of the theft of intellectual property and forced technology transfers, a matter of great concern for all of us.

I did not find your answer to be satisfactory (letter of January 16th/2021). You said that all Chinese people know that such appropriation is justified, as the price foreigners have to pay for the privilege of doing business in China and having access to its superb labor force and vast markets.

I disagree.

You could have said to foreign companies, ‘our growing nation needs to build technology expertise to prepare for our future. In exchange for granting you full access to our markets for 5 years, we would like for you to allow us the use of your knowledge at no cost for a subsequent 5 year period, after which we would enter into an agreement where we would pay you a percentage of the average cost of your licensing fee.’

And maybe that amount could have been deferred for a length of time, to be payable for instance when China reached a certain GDP per person.

I can see how there would have been political pressures from within not to enter into such agreement, given your development needs. But don’t you think that being open to some form of payment, even if deferred, would have sent and could still send a signal to the world that your country was willing to play by the rules?

The observance of rules is key to mutual respect among individuals, groups and nations.

Intellectual property rights act as powerful incentives to creativity. They must be preserved.

And here I must return to your censoring of speech.

When speech is censored, there are fewer voices and ideas in the public arena. Nations are poorer, not richer for the lack of free speech.

Free speech does not hinder but increases the economic, industrial, military and civic growth of a nation, while helping to keep a proper balance between all areas of development.

If you had free speech, the question of paying or paying under certain terms for the use of intellectual rights could have been openly discussed and a different approach found.

So long as mutual respect is observed, there is no reason for free speech to be impeded. The task of enlightened government, through its laws, becomes one of ensuring that mutual respect is observed at all times.

You say that every person wants to be king. Maybe. But say it were true, still, as people evolve, they must learn the value of limits and realize that others have abilities, beliefs, property that they don’t have, and that to acknowledge such difference is essential to personal growth and satisfaction.

Your fear of free speech interfering with the growth of China is misplaced. Discipline is essential, but discipline can be had without censoring free speech.

The good news is that there is still time to make necessary corrections.

And doing so will be telling the world that China is here to be all that it can be, certain in the knowledge that the strength and creativity of their people assures them a bright future.

Best to you



Let not the past hold us back, let it not torture us, but instead serve as marker of how far we’ve come. Keep moving forward.

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