More efforts are needed to raise awareness of intellectual property rights (IPR) protection among the Chinese people, according to senior government officials.
"I witnessed the establishment of IPR laws in China. It took us only 20 years to achieve what other countries did in a century, but the change in people's ideas and perceptions is much slower," said Xu Jialu, vice-chairman of the National People's Congress (NPC) Standing Committee.
During the just-concluded 17th National Congress of the Communist Party of China, at which Chinese President Hu Jintao promised the implementation of a new "national strategy" on IPR protection in the near future, China's IPR chief Tian Lipu reiterated that China needed a long time to get the notion of IPR into people's heads.
"There is this couple near my home. The husband earns a 50-cent profit for selling a watermelon and his wife earns the same for vending a pirated DVD. In their minds, the two things are the same - they don't know that a DVD is a product with IPR and that right should be honored," Tian said.
"Ordinarily, people make judgments based on immediate gains and benefits and we need more efforts to make them regard IPR as a priority," said Yan Xiaohong, deputy director of the National Copyright Administration.
China has staged consistent fights against piracy, destroying pirated books and DVDs in public, trading counterfeit DVDs for movie tickets and raiding factories churning out fakes. But piracy is still rampant.
Dr. Prabuddha Ganguli, a consultant to the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), said, "Another urgent mission for China besides public campaigns is more vigorous law enforcement."
"China needs to train a large number of professional enforcers who can immediately and effectively detect piracy. It also needs to adopt tougher punitive measures to prevent people from committing piracy," he said.
IPR protection has risen in importance on China's judiciary agenda. Since 2001, China's supreme court has ordered the establishment of special courts for IPR cases across the country and lowered the threshold to prosecute people manufacturing or selling counterfeit products.
Statistics from the supreme court indicate that Chinese courts handled 769 IPR cases in 2006 and prosecuted 1,212 offenders, up 52.2 percent and 62.21 percent respectively from 2005.
"A national strategy on IPR is China's promise to its people and the world. We mean what we say, and that requires us to be more engaged in the two aspects of law enforcement and public awareness," Xu said.
(Xinhua News Agency October 24, 2007)