Malcolm Lee was a nonresident senior fellow in the John L. Thornton China Center at Brookings. He has served in economic policy positions at the White House (National Economic Council, National Security Council and Office of Management and Budget), the Commerce Department and the State Department. In the private sector, Malcolm led global trade and China policy, strategy and corporate affairs for Microsoft, and was an elected governor of the American Chamber of Commerce in China.
As the Chinese government moves forward to enforce, preliminary injunctions, evidence preservation, appropriate damages and protecting trade secrets from disclosure in the course of judicial, administrative and regulatory proceedings are all essential. The United States, Europe and China are all considering legal reforms to create unified—or at least more consistent—domestic trade secret laws. The administration should support, and Congress should move forward to create, a federal civil cause of action for trade secrets misappropriation.
At a high level, the biggest issue remains whether, and at what pace, China is prepared to open closed sectors of its economy that must be liberalized to revitalize and rebalance its growth. Unless the government moves forward decisively, China's economy will stall. There is concern market reforms are being delayed in favor of stability, slowing the transition from the old to new economy. This could impact sectors from services to steel and dim near-term prospects for the Bilateral Investment Treaty. I expect the JCCT will attempt to move the needle in several areas essential to both China's economic reforms and leveling the playing field for American companies and workers.