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, China
permits only 10 new foreign movies to be distributed within its borders each
year. Although China says this is to protect its domestic film industry,
American film makers estimate that they lose $150 million a year due to piracy
of films that would be otherwise unavailable to the Chinese public.
China may be the worst piracy offender, but it is not alone. Around the
world, according to figures published on May 9th, 1996 by the International
Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI), one in five recordings of music
is now a pirated copy. It is estimated that the music industry lost 5% of their
revenues, or 2.1 billion dollars, because of this. What worries officials about
China is that it is estimated that they produce 150 million bootleg copies of
music CDs a year. However, it