The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has used intellectual property theft, currency manipulation, state subsidies, tariffs, and manipulations of the legal system for decades to give Chinese companies an unfair edge over foreign companies. Behind this is its publicly stated goal to “catch up fast” and “surpass” the United States.
Now that the Trump administration is meeting the challenge head-on to stop the CCP’s unfair trade practices, legacy news outlets have portrayed the idea of the “trade war” with China like it’s a new phenomenon. In reality, it’s a war that has been taking place for decades, but the United States has only now begun doing something about it.
This historical amnesia has strategic value. For the CCP, it can use the public’s forgetfulness or lack of a clear understanding of its past to frame itself as the victim of a “Trump trade war.” And some of the legacy news outlets, which have a policy of absolute opposition to anything done by Trump, have been willing to play along with China’s charade to eliminate historical context.
On April 28, the CCP pulled out a tactic to capitalize on the lack of clarity on its history of trade war: It simply denied it ever happened.
Shen Changyu, head of China’s National Intellectual Property Administration, said that critics of the CCP’s intellectual property policies “lack evidence.”
“Some countries’ criticisms of China’s IP protection lack evidence and are nonspecific,” he said, according to South China Morning Post.
Of course, there is plenty of evidence. Estimates of the cost of China’s intellectual property theft against the United States range from $13 billion to $400 billion a year. Some estimates place the loss of economic value in the trillions.
The CCP has used a massive system—including military hackers, spies, researchers, students, and businesses—to steal intellectual property from U.S. companies. This includes the infamous CCP military hackers in Unit 61398, who were indicted during the Obama administration for stealing U.S. intellectual property.
While the CCP has since reorganized the military operations under its new Strategic Support Force, at the time, Unit 61398 was just one of 22 known operational bureaus dedicated to similar operations. It was under the Third Department under the CCP’s warfighting department, the General Staff Department. The Third Department, which focused on cyber operations, worked with the Second Department that ran human spy networks.
Since 1986, the CCP’s Project 863 has directed its policies for economic theft. Additional programs, such as its Torch Program, its 211 Program, and its 973 Program, directed similar operations. According to the book “China’s Industrial Espionage” by William C. Hannas et al., “Each of these programs looks to foreign collaboration and technologies to cover key gaps.”
The CCP has since added to the mix its China 2025 policy, which builds on Project 863. The program outlines 10 tech-related sectors for the CCP to dominate—by hook or by crook.
After intellectual property is stolen, the CCP reverse engineers it through its National Demonstration Organizations, also known as China’s National Technology Transfer Centers. According to Hannas et al., the CCP launched these operations in 2001 and directed them more heavily in 2007 through its National Technology Transfer Promotion Implementation Plan.
The CCP runs 202 of these transfer centers as “models for emulation by other transfer facilities.” These include the State Administration of Foreign Experts Affairs under the State Council, the Science and Technology Office under the Overseas Chinese Affairs Office, and the National Technology Transfer Center under the East China University of Science and Technology.
“Their charters explicitly name ‘domestic and foreign technology’ as targets for ‘commercialization,'” the authors state in “China’s Industrial Espionage.”
In addition to these operations, the CCP also runs large-scale networks for overt espionage under its United Front Department, which includes tapping networks for economic theft. It runs student groups, such as the Chinese Student and Scholar Associations, to strategically place Chinese students in targeted positions and industries.
And the CCP has used state subsidies, legal punishments of foreign firms, and industrial espionage to undercut and disable foreign competition. An example of this is the CCP’s “Operation Night Dragon” cyberattacks, uncovered in 2013, which the CCP was using to spy on competitors in the energy industry, enabling it to under-bid them on contracts.
The CCP’s strategy to alter perceptions of the scope and impact of its aggressive intellectual property theft is simple yet effective. Its operations for economic theft use a “death by 1,000 cuts” approach and have a massive state system behind it. It’s a crime that has been perpetrated against the United States for decades.
Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.