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China cuffs 60,000 pirates in 2013 crackdown

Claims to have cracked cases worth £17 BEEELION

Police in China arrested just shy of 60,000 people suspected of copyright abuses last year, in cases worth 173 billion yuan (£17bn).

A total of 59,222 perps involved in 55,180 cases were cuffed in 2013, according to Ministry of Public Security stats revealed by state-run newswire Xinhua.

Some 1,260 criminal networks were crushed and more than 90 million tonnes of pirated goods confiscated.

The government periodically releases such stats to show how serious it is about cracking down on intellectual property abuse, although there’s little way of independently verifying them.

However, there’s definitely a greater political will these days to improve China’s woeful record on piracy and counterfeit goods.

Back in August, Chinese customs officials took part in a joint anti-piracy blitz with their US counterparts which saw over 240,000 fake electrical items confiscated.

In June, meanwhile, watchdog the National Copyright Administration announced it would be stepping up its oversight of e-commerce platforms including Taobao, Amazon and Apple in an effort to better police online piracy.

Industry has also been leant on to play its part. In April 2013 e-commerce giant Alibaba announced a “milestone” partnership with the police and State Intellectual Property Office which will involve sharing information on counterfeiters who operate on its sites.

The government is trying to lead by example too, investing US$160 million (£102m) to ensure all of its software is properly licensed.

However, wander round any market or city centre in mainland China and you’re unlikely to see any noticeable improvement. From fake handbags to rip-off “brand name” smartphones, the Middle Kingdom is still a major centre for counterfeit goods.

The most recent stats from the Business Software Alliance, meanwhile, rate China as one of the world’s worst offenders with a piracy rate of 77 per cent. ®

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