Crime and the Black Market in Modern Day China

Topics: People's Republic of China, China, South China Sea Pages: 6 (1969 words) Published: October 8, 1999
Crime and the Black Market in Modern Day China

With a population of approximately 1,203,097,268 people , China, who has the world's largest population, also has the world's fastest growing black market and crime problem. In China, crime rates have been climbing an estimated 10 percent a year since the early 1980s . China is a country that is currently experiencing both political and economic instability. Economic reforms that have been put in place by the government have only widened the income gap, creating a middle class with money and a lower class of newly poor. With an ever increasing size in this gap of income distribution and the relative ease of making money through black market sales, it is no wonder more and more Chinese are turning to a life of commonly accepted and profitable crime.

Thomas Jefferson once said, "he who receives an idea from me, receives instruction himself without lessening mine; as he who lights his taper at mine, receives light without darkening me." Unfortunately, Thomas Jefferson lived in a different time. He lived in a time when piracy was not as evident and intellectual property was not worth so much. In China, the largest crime which is currently occurring is intellectual piracy. Unlike the pirates of old who plundered the merchant vessels and ports of the South China Sea, modern day pirates are more interested in illegal replication of intellectual rights. From music compact discs to computer software to films to best selling novels, The Chinese black market is a virtual warehouse of "plundered goods". It is estimated that there are at least thirty illegal high tech factories in China that can churn out over 20,000 optical discs a day. America's Microsoft estimates that 98 out of every 100 of its software programs being used in China are illegal copies . Because of these statistics, and because this only amounts to a small amount of the estimated piracy which occurs in China, program manufacturers, worldwide, are lobbying the Chinese government to impose stricter standards and greater restrictions upon the distribution and sale of illegal intellectual rights. In July of 1996, investigators from Microsoft led Chinese officials to a plant near Guilin in Guanxi Province, where they found 5700 bootleg windows CDs. The plant had four production lines. Three of them were operated around the clock. It was estimated that this particular plant churned out 20,000 illegal copies of Microsoft programs a day. A trade report to Congress from the Trade office cites China as the worst violator of United States - copyrighted intellectual property. The report, which came days after the joint raid on the Guilin plant by Microsoft and Chinese investigators, blasted China for failing to honor a February 1995 agreement to police production at its replication plants and mark the software with a source identification code. In a statement, Microsoft characterized the raid as a matter of luck, not enforcement: "There were no copyright monitors stationed at the factory, nor were the source-identifier markings required under Chinese law in place."

In June of 1996, the United States government planned to impose punitive tariffs against Chinese textiles and electronics imports. These tariffs were going to be imposed if the Chinese government didn't immediately comply with a US-Chinese piracy agreement. However, at press time, China stated that they would retaliate with duties on American agricultural and automotive products. China insisted that they were trying to rectify the situation, and the punitive tariffs never went through. The United States currently has a 34 billion dollar balance-of-trade deficit with China. If 2 billion dollars of illegally pirated U.S. goods are included in this amount, it counts for a lot. Even though the Chinese government states that they are trying to prevent this piracy, they still have restrictions in place that only encourage it. For example,...
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