Posted: Apr 16, 2021 12:01 AM
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American businesses have rightly worried for years about China stealing their intellectual property. It turns out they should worry just as much about congressional Democrats, who are increasingly carrying Beijing's water these days.
Many of the same liberal lawmakers who've spent decades calling for crackdowns on China are now supporting a policy that would hand America's most lucrative trade secrets directly to the communist Chinese government. It's as though these politicians decided the best way to prevent robbery is to preemptively offer the thieves what they want. After all, it isn't theft if you simply give it away.
A slew of high-ranking House Democrats, including Rosa DeLauro (CT-03), Andy Levin (MI-09) and Lloyd Doggett (TX-35), are encouraging President Biden to support a petition — proposed to the World Trade Organization by India and South Africa and supported by China — that would suspend intellectual property (IP) protections on Covid-19 drugs, vaccines, and diagnostic technologies. The measure would essentially force American companies to hand over intellectual property, trade secrets, and manufacturing know-how to anyone who wants it.
China, India, South Africa, and other nations claim that suspending IP rights will speed the production and distribution of vaccines throughout the developing world.
Those claims are simply wrong. Suspending intellectual property rights wouldn't do anything to boost supply or expand access to vaccines. In fact, Moderna, Pfizer, and Johnson & Johnson are already allowing manufacturers to license their intellectual property for free. The supply challenges in the developing world are solely due to production capacity constraints and infrastructure challenges.
India, South Africa, and China know this, of course. Their petition is merely a ruse to gain access to American companies' proprietary platforms and technologies, thus enabling their domestic firms to access decades of American know-how.
It's odd that Democrats are abetting this theft, since they've long warned of the threat China poses to American companies. Fourteen years ago, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi noted that “no country in the world has done more to undermine American intellectual property than China.” More recently, Rep. DeLauro criticized China for “systematically [stealing] our nation's intellectual property” and Rep. Levin urged trade officials to crack “down on . . . theft of intellectual property and other violations by China.”
Why these lawmakers are now eager to give China unfettered access to American scientific insights is anyone's guess. The most charitable read is that congressional Democrats are simply unaware of the sweeping implications of the petition. They might think that supporting the petition is just a harmless way to virtue-signal and show solidarity with progressive groups who have long believed that IP hinders access to drugs — even though experts from both parties have repeatedly explained that without IP protections, new drugs wouldn't be developed in the first place.
But whether they are useful idiots or not, congressional Democrats are advancing China's interests by urging President Biden to give away sensitive and priceless intellectual property to America's biggest adversary.
In his only news conference as President, Joe Biden pledged to compete head-to-head with China in “medical research, cancer, Alzheimer's, diabetes, industries of the future… [and] biotech” and emphasized that the United States will “insist that China play by the international rules, fair competition, fair practices, fair trade.”
If Biden listens to his allies in the House, it'll make that competition far more difficult for U.S. researchers by delivering America's trade secrets to Beijing on a silver platter.
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