SINGAPORE (Mar 12): Singing along to old songs provides a nostalgic background for the commute to work. Singing old songs as an excuse for national policy, however, is not such a benign activity. One old song about China goes something like this: “China is stealing our intellectual property.” And in the spirit of old song subtitles, the refrain goes: “Because they cannot develop it themselves.”

It is a comfort song that lulls some policymakers to sleep and blinds them to the changing reality of Chinese research and innovation. It does not reflect what is actually happening, but increasingly opaque organisations such as Australia’s Foreign Investment Review Board and the Committee on Foreign Investment in the US are blocking research collaboration with China, often on unspecified security grounds.

US President Donald Trump talks of trade war retaliation because — sing all together now — “China is stealing our intellectual property”.

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