Chinese Corporate Espionage: A Legal Gray Area?

After U.S. prosecutors last month accused three New York University researchers of taking bribes in exchange for sharing confidential details of their work with a Shenzhen-based government-backed research institute and a Shanghai medical technology company, Edward Wong and Didi Kirsten Tatlow of The New York Times report that the case underlies a large push by China to solidify its competitiveness through overseas technology transfer:

The authors of the new book, “Chinese Industrial Espionage,” say that technology transfer is an official policy at all levels of the Communist Party and the state. It often takes place in a legal gray area, since laws governing technology transfer can be vague or nonexistent. The authors warn that the United States and other nations need to acknowledge the extent of the Chinese campaign, which they say far exceeds those of other countries and threatens American competitiveness.

They contend that the scale of China’s efforts to gather overseas technology is so immense that the National Counterintelligence Executive, a federal agency, has considered issuing separate annual reports each year: one for China and one for the rest of the world.

“China is in a different league altogether, exceeding the international norm not just in scale, the number and variety of transfer venues, the moral agnosticism of its practitioners, and the degree of government support,” the authors, William C. Hannas, James Mulvenon and Anna B. Puglisi, said in written answers to questions. “It’s an entire mind-set.” [Source]

TIME’s Zeke Miller writes that the issue of corporate espionage is likely to arise when Chinese president Xi Jinping meets American counterpart Barack Obama in California for an informal summit this weekend.


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