China has announced its intention to set up a national office to handle intellectual property rights (IPR) infringement and counterfeiting, according to the Xinhua state news agency.
The State Council said last week that a national body needed to be formed to coordinate administrative and enforcement operations, particularly in the food, pharmaceutical, cosmetics, agricultural, construction, machinery and electronics sectors.
The announcement comes just ahead of the 10-year anniversary of China's accession to the World Trade Organization (WTO). Over that time, the country's share of global exports has risen from 4 per cent to nearly 11 per cent, but that success has been mirrored by complaints that the country has become the primary hub for manufacture of a host of counterfeit products.
The US government said just a few days ago that it had uncovered 1,800 instances of suspected counterfeit parts and equipment sold to the Department of Defense, for example, with China emerging as the most common country of origin.
The new office will exercise stricter supervision over manufacturers, in part through inspections, and encourage police forces and local government bodies across different regions in China to work together on investigations involving IPR infringement and product counterfeiting.
The State Council statement also calls for greater oversight of local government, tighter regulation of Internet trade and stronger penalties for those found guilty of partaking in this type of criminal activities.
China's Ministry of Public Security said earlier this month that police have solved 28,000 cases involving IPR infringement and counterfeiting over the course of a year-long crackdown on the activities, focusing on fake luxury goods, pirated books, audio and video and counterfeit medicines and foods.
All told the cases represent around 500 billion yuan ($80bn) worth of goods if calculated in terms of the prices of genuine, licensed products, said the Ministry.
Men jailed after counterfeit medicines bust
Meanwhile, the Chinese authorities have chalked up another successful enforcement operation against medicine counterfeiters, seizing 840,000 tablets worth an estimated $4.7m in Shanghai, Hebei and Guangdong, says Xinhua.
Last month, police in China's Henan province seized 65 million bottles of counterfeit medicines worth around $30m, making more than 100 arrests. The latest case led to the arrests of eight men who had sold the counterfeit medicines, which included copies of Pfizer's erectile dysfunction drug Viagra (sildenafil).
All eight men have been jailed with terms ranging from one to two years and 10 months, with fines of between 40,000 and 100,000 yuan ($6,000-$16,000).