A senior U.S. official Friday called on China to do more to stop the theft of U.S. intellectual property, which he said was costing U.S. companies billions of dollars.
Assistant Secretary for Economic and Business Affairs Jose W. Fernandez told a business audience in the southern Chinese city of Hong Kong that some U.S. companies had seen their businesses almost destroyed within days.
"One U.S. company was the victim of Chinese hackers who stole technology that cost $1 billion and 20 years to develop," he said.
"After theft of its technology came to light, another company lost 40% of its value in a single day and 84% within five months."
Piracy targets included U.S. firms specializing in biotechnology, nanotechnology and telecommunications, which had "billions of dollars worth of technology stolen from servers and funneled to Chinese companies", he said.
China is shaping up as a central issue in the U.S. political debate ahead of this year's presidential election, due to the "extremely high" stakes for the U.S. economy in the form of China-linked trade and investment, Fernandez said.
President Barack Obama has blasted China for its "unfair trade practices" such as duties on U.S. auto exports, while his Republican foe Mitt Romney has pledged to label Beijing a "currency manipulator".
Fernandez said the United States noted "positive steps" taken by China to enhance protection of intellectual property rights in recent years, including requiring government agencies to use legitimate computer software.
But he said China needed to do more to increase sales of legitimate goods.
"China will see the increasing importance of IPR protection and enforcement as it becomes an IPR producer as well as a consumer," he said.
Beijing should also honor its commitments to the World Trade Organization, including opening up its massive public procurement market to foreign suppliers, he said.
Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2012