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Alibaba founder Jack Ma has for the first time called directly on China’s government to ramp up efforts to erase counterfeiting, blaming modest penalties and lax laws for the scourge of fakes.
The appeal to delegates at this week’s National People’s Congress marks an escalation by Mr Ma, one of China’s richest men, and a reversal from his earlier comments that counterfeits are often better quality than the real thing, writes Louise Lucas in Hong Kong.
But it also follows a renewed crusade against fakes that followed the return of Alibaba’s ecommerce platform Taobao to the US blacklist of “notorious markets” for peddling fake goods blacklist.
In an open letter to delegates of the NPC and The Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference posted on China’s Twitter-like Weibo platform, Mr Ma called for counterfeits to be tackled in the same way as drunk driving.
“If, for example, we imposed a seven-day prison sentence for every fake product sold, the world would look very different both in terms of intellectual property enforcement and food and drug safety, as well as our ability to foster innovation,” he wrote.
Highlighting laws that enabled 99 per cent of counterfeit activities to go unchecked and inappropriately small penalties for those fined he said “there is a lot of bark around stopping counterfeits, but no bite.”