Powell Urges China to Address Intellectual Property Violations

At the Information Privacy Forum, former Secretary of State Colin Powell discussed China's need to "do a better job" protecting IP rights and addressed national security.

ASPEN, Colo.—The authorities in China should go further in protecting intellectual property rights, former United States Secretary of State Colin Powell said in remarks here Saturday. However, he said, protectionist laws are not the answer.

"There is an increase in tension over a number of the trade issues. We need to make sure the Congress doesnt overreact," Powell said, adding that trade officials should have authority to work out problems. "But," he asserted, "China must do a better job to protect intellectual property rights. The Chinese authorities have to do a lot more." He noted that when a movie is released in the United States that costs $200 million to make, a pirated version is available in China the next day.

However, he expressed the belief that China will eventually come to grips with this issue because its in its interest to do so. "China has plenty of problems to deal with. … They want to work things out."

Powells comments came at the Information Privacy Forum 2005 here, sponsored by the Donnelley Group.

Intellectual property questions notwithstanding, Powell said he is "very optimistic" about the United States relationship with China. He recalled the incident soon after he took office in 2001 in which a Chinese fighter plane collided with a U. S. reconnaissance aircraft near China. "Since then, our relationship has been on an upswing."

But, he added, "we dont like what they do with human rights and other things." Nonetheless, he continued, "theyre not an enemy. China will want to play a more important role on the world stage, and we should encourage them."

On the heels of the terrorist attack against the British in London last Thursday morning, Powell addressed some national security questions. "As we saw in London, every civilized country is at risk," he said.

/zimages/6/28571.gifFlickr pictures capture the terror in London. Click here to read more.

Powell, who was secretary of state at the time of the 9/11 attacks against the United States, recalled his own efforts to deal with terrorism. "We needed a database to track who is in the country, but in the first couple of years, we really shut things down, making it harder to come to America. There was a loss of money because people did not come to our hospitals and educational institutions, but there was a greater loss in people thinking that America had changed."

In the last two years of his tenure, he said, "we improved the visa system—we want you to come to America. … As we protect ourselves, we have to make sure we dont shut ourselves down. If we do, then the terrorists have won and we have lost."

He noted that America still takes in more refugees, approximately 50,000 annually, than any other nation. "Thats what we have to be—a country that touches every other country and is touched by every other country."

Powell also noted that when he came to the State Department, it was lagging in information technology. "We still had some Wang computers," Powell said.

/zimages/6/28571.gifFor insights on security coverage around the Web, check out eWEEK.com Security Center Editor Larry Seltzers Weblog.

Powell, who served on the board of America Online Inc. for five years, set the goal of giving all State Department workers broadband Internet access from their desktops. This was accomplished, he said, in a $400 million project.

While heading the State Department, he used e-mail constantly and urged staff to do away with paper as much as possible. "I urged the staff to use Google, not dictionaries." He was also pleased that his younger staff members began using Research In Motion BlackBerry handheld messaging systems. "I discovered that me e-mailing someone on their BlackBerry became the greatest chick magnet in Washington."´

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