China has to play by the rules on technology
Country needs to shake off its reputation as a copycat if it is to uphold highest standards of research and abide by international rules and expectations
Protecting intellectual property rights takes more than a pledge and warnings. There also has to be resolute action and this is what has to follow the debacle over what a company claimed to be was China’s first wholly home-made web browser. If laws and rules are found to have been violated, harsh punishment has to be meted out. The nation’s technological innovations and global image rely on the honesty and integrity of scientists and researchers.
Within a day of the company, AllMobilize, announcing its Redcore browser had “broken the American monopoly”, a social media post showing installer files bearing the Google Chrome name and logo had gone viral. Company founder and chief executive Chen Benfeng apologised and acknowledged Chrome was the framework, but he explained that expecting the entire code to be written by his firm was unreasonable as to do so would take many years. An investigation has to be carried out to ensure intellectual property rights have not been infringed.
There is a troubling similarity to previous cases involving claimed technological breakthroughs. In one, a scientist at the acclaimed Shanghai Jiao Tong University developed what he said was the nation’s first home-made computer chip, which he named the Hanxin, or “China chip”. In 2006, his “invention” was found to be a fraud, having simply been a Motorola chip with the word on it scratched out and replaced by “Hanxin”.
China has been trying hard to eliminate claims that it is the land of copycats and lay to rest a perception that its firms cut corners in the name of quick profits. Officials have vowed to end forced foreign technology transfers, protect intellectual property and severely punish offenders.
US President Donald Trump’s trade war with Beijing is in part based on allegations that Chinese theft of American intellectual property is behind China’s technological advances. China needs to develop its own core technologies so that it does not rely on others for its innovations. But in achieving its goals, it has to uphold the highest standards of research and abide by international rules and expectations.