NewNotables – Issue 38

Intellectual Property Issues in China

China Daily, 9/06/2004, p. 5
Chinese auto makers have realized the importance of independent research and development from the arising intellectual property rights (IPR) disputes.

“We must respect others’ intellectual property rights and try to create our own through learning from and cooperation with them,” said Xu Gang, chief executive officer of Geely, a private car maker in East China’s Zhejiang Province.

Geely, which is one of a few Chinese auto makers making its own brand cars, will speed up research, development, and collaboration with international automotive design firms, Xu said.

Comment: The development of intellectual property in China, whether in automobiles, film, or computing, may be the key to improving respect for intellectual property from the West.

Crackdown on Corrupt Practices in the Chinese Government

China Daily, 9/13/2004, p. 3
Li Yuanjiang, former director of the Publicity Department under the Guangzhou Municipal Committee of the Communist Party of China, was sentenced to twelve years in jail by a Guangzhou court last Friday.

Li, who was also former publisher of Guangzhou Daily Group, has become the highest ranking official who has been sentenced to imprisonment in this southern Chinese metropolis.

He was convicted of accepting bribes valued at more than 330,000 yuan (US$40,000) between 1991 and 2001. The court said it reduced Li’s punishment after he returned most of the bribes he had taken and admitted his crimes when he was detained.

Comment: T.K. Loy, CEO of MBf Corporation in Malaysia argues in the current IBTE Conversation that enforcement of the laws against bribery is one of the first steps in changing this pattern of behavior in many Asian countries. Perhaps this case is an indication of the start of this enforcement in China.

Challenge for Better Business Practices in Malaysia, James Rose, 10/07/04
The Malaysian leader, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, has said companies need high levels of transparency and governance to compete in a global market place.

The remarks were made at a “Corporate Sector against Corruption” function in Kuala Lumpur for the Society for Transparency and Integrity.

The prime minister argued that foreign perceptions of Malaysia’s ethical standards were an important factor as the country sought to gain greater export income and access to international markets. “These perceptions determine to an extent whether foreign direct investments come in or bypass us,” he said.

Comment: Datuk Seri’s leadership was cited by both Dato’ Loy and Dato’ Ting as a key factor in the development of the business climate in Malaysia in the two IBTE Conversations in this issue.

Professional Ethics in News Coverage

China Daily, 10/09/2004, p. 6
Breaking news always attracts attention. Faster coverage wins a newspaper or television company more fame. But cutthroat competition for this fame between some Chinese media companies has gone so far that they have become cold-blooded about tragedy.

One Chinese TV channel used the school siege in Beslan, Russia, in an award-winning quiz, posing the question: How many people have died in the Russian hostage crisis so far? Four choices were offered: 402, 338, 322, 302. Audiences were angered by this explicit demonstration of lack of sympathy for the dead and wounded.

It is all very well to vie for the fastest output of breaking stories—but professional ethics should always be borne in mind.

Comment: Sadly, globalization seems to spread both good and bad practices. This kind of editorial might be found in many newspapers across the world.

Proper Management of Government Assets

China Daily, 9/11 and 12/2004, p. 1
The State-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission (SASAC) on Friday released two regulations to examine and audit the operational results of the State-owned enterprises (SOEs) and the performance of the SOE chiefs.

The regulations, further clarifying the liabilities of SOE executives in management of the State assets, are aimed at looking after the maintenance and appreciation of these assets and the accuracy of relevant statistics.

Those found guilty of irregularities or illegal activities during the management of the enterprises will face liabilities according to existing laws and regulations.

Comment: As China moves from its government planned economy to a market economy, they are becoming more concerned with the proper management of the companies under government ownership. According to one government official, the abuse of these assets is a major area of concern during this transition for China.

By Roger Eigsti
Board President,
Institute for Business, Technology, and Ethics