The Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM) and the Ministry of Science and Technology unveiled China’s newly revised catalogue of technologies prohibited and restricted from export on August 28, touching upon a total of 53 items. In effect, the catalogue is a negative list of technology exports, and its updating better reflects the reality of new technology progress and offers a legal foundation for China’s technology exports. It also shows that China has relaxed restrictions on some of its technology exports.
The history of human progress overlaps with the history of science and technological progress. However, regarding national security and intellectual property rights, the scope of and approaches to the application of one country’s advanced technologies to the rest of the world are subject to unique national considerations. Some technologies are prohibited from export, some are restricted, while others are transferable through technology transactions. This type of administration of modern science and technology originates in the West, with negative lists a common practice around the world.
China has always adhered to this principle in its interactions with the rest of the world. It issued the Regulations on Technology Import and Export Administration of the People’s Republic of China on October 31, 2001, and compiled a catalogue of technologies prohibited and restricted from export in order to standardize its administration of technology imports and exports, maintain a good order and adapt itself to international rules after entering the World Trade Organization.
Technology exports in these regulations refer to acts of transferring technology from the territory of China to outside the territory of China by way of trade, investment or economical and technical cooperation. They include the assignment of patent rights and patent application rights, the licensing of patent exploitation and the assignment of technical secrets, technical services and the transfer of technology by other means. Thus, all acts related to technology transfer to outside the territory of China by whatever means must follow the regulations and the catalogue.
The catalogue was first revised in 2008. In this year’s revision, nine technology items prohibited or restricted from export were removed and a total of 23 were added as restricted exports, while 21 were adjusted or revised. A growing number of technology export items will help contribute to technological progress for world importers.
The Chinese Government has always treated opening up as a catalyst for development, as well as for boosting innovation and working together, the MOFCOM said in a statement posted on its official website. “China is committed to creating a good environment for technological innovation and international cooperation, and encouraging the free flow of production factors in technological innovation,” it said. According to its statistics, in 2013, the contract amount of China’s technology exports was $20 billion, half of the amount of imports. But in 2019, the amount was $32.1 billion, almost equal to that of imports.
China’s relaxing of export prohibitions strikes a sharp contrast to those countries which have recently tightened their control of technology transfers and hobbled technology trade and relevant investment. China’s new catalogue only deducts technology items prohibited from export, and it plans to remove more items in the future, and make technology trade more convenient, as it continues to improve the overall environment of technology imports and exports.
The application of advanced technologies helps to boost business. While expanding exports, Chinese enterprises are also optimizing China’s exporting structure, helping trading partners with their industrial upgrading and economic growth. This will in turn further promote China’s technology trade and cooperation with the world at large.
Furthermore, in response to the novel coronavirus pandemic, the MOFCOM issued guidelines to navigate technology imports and exports during the outbreak by encouraging paperless contract registration and allowing more business entities to get involved in technology exports and imports so that China’s technology trade can maintain a healthy, orderly and sustainable pace of development.