Jan. 24, 2018 – At a routine press conference last Thursday, Press Spokesman of China’s Ministry of Commerce, Gao Feng, made a strong statement: China expresses doubts about the credibility of the U.S. Trade Representatives Annual “Notorious Markets” report.
Nine of the twenty-five companies included in the report were Chinese, including e-commerce giants Taobao and DHgate.
“Marketplaces worldwide that contribute to illicit trade cause severe harm to the American economy, innovation, and workers,” said U.S. Ambassador Robert Lighthizer. “We are committed to holding intellectual property right violators accountable and intensifying efforts to combat counterfeiting and piracy.”
In his rebuttal, Gao Feng replied, “We doubt the credibility of the report because it lacked substantiating evidence. Sources were described with indirect language, ‘according to report’ or ‘according to obligee’.
Mr. Gao also stressed that the Chinese government takes IP protection seriously. In the first nine months of 2017, Chinese law enforcement agencies investigated and punished over 110,000 tort cases.
Some believe that including Taobao on the list rebukes China’s efforts to crack down on IP infringement. Tamebay, a well-known British business news site, that including Alibaba’s Taobao on the ‘Notorious Markets’ list was draconian. According to Alibaba Group, “Alibaba is a victim of protectionism.”
The 2017 Alibaba Annual Report of Intellectual Property Rights, released on Jan. 10, shows that Alibaba achieved significant breakthroughs in governing the sale of counterfeit goods. It closed 240,000 shops on Taobao suspected of IP violation, 97% of links to fake products are blocked immediately, and just 1.5 out of every 10,000 orders is for counterfeit goods.