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Top House Judiciary Democrat: China Bashing Not Going To Work

WASHINGTON, February 11, 2011 — Congress’ traditionally brash China-bashing rhetoric isn’t “going to work very well” in advancing American companies’ interests as the world’s most populous nation’s own global influence begins to eclipse the U.S., said a top House Democrat on Tuesday.

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Recalling a past trip to China with Rep. Jack Brooks, a fellow Democratic lawmaker from Texas,  Rep. John Conyers of Michigan said his hosts at the time showed off some products that were pirated to the dumbfounded visiting congressmen. He that Brooks threatened to “give them a piece of his mind,” which he was later dissuaded to do.

“They were proudly showing us how they were stealing our intellectual property, and of course it was meant to be a compliment,” said Conyers.

Conyers, the top Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee, told the audience of about 60 at the Intellectual Property Breakfast Club’s monthly breakfast series that “The Texas Approach” ” is not going to work, and that “our task is to figure out where we really might go from here.”

The 81-year-old congressman, who is seeking his 25th term, adopted a surprisingly conciliatory — yet frank — tone during a rambling, Zen-like talk filled with anecdotes and observations on conversations he’s had with colleagues and advisers on how U.S. policymakers should best engage with China as it grows increasingly powerful.

For his part, Conyers noted that China’s influence is almost palpalble in continents such as Africa, which now exports much of its natural resources over there.

Investment banks such as Goldman Sachs and BNP Paribas project that China’s economy will become as large as the United States’ between 2020 and 2025, and that it will be double the size of the United States’ by 2050.

The question of U.S. influence matters on purely commercial terms as U.S. firms seek to grab a toehold in China’s gigantic and lucrative market that has yet to reach its peak.

Even now the numbers are staggering: There are more than 800 million cell phone subscribers in China as of July 2010, and more than 457 million people with access to the internet, according to China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology.

And the country is just starting to embark on building a whole new energy, communications and transportation infrastructure as well as whole new cities.

According to the U.S. Commerce Department, China plans on investing $10 billion annually between 2011 and 2020 to build a national smart grid, and an additional $590 billion to build an electric power grid, for example.

In recent years, U.S. companies have complained to U.S. policymakers about China’s efforts to jump the technology learning curve by enacting rules that would have required them to effectively surrender their intellectual property to Chinese-run companies.

Lawmakers in the U.S. Congress have openly criticized China for its policies, but the Obama Administration has worked hard behind the scenes to negotiate changes.

The efforts culminated in January when President Obama rolled out the red carpet for Chinese President Hu Jintao and feted his visit.

For his part, Hu promised that the central government would drop its controversial procurement policies that would have required companies that sell products to the central government to have developed its intellectual property in China.

Hu also pitched China as a great place for U.S. companies to do business and he promised that their intellectual property would be protected.

On Tuesday, Conyers said that Americans are having a tough time readjusting to the coming power realignment, and how to think about the coming changes.

He said his own experience ranged from observations of friendly-student exchanges designed to build bridges between the two countries, to hearing more cynical thoughts from some on how China is busily building its military might as its diplomats make nice.

The open question that Conyers posed to his audience on Tuesday is the fundamental conundrum that U.S. policymakers are struggling to address everyday in Washington DC: What is the most effective way to influence and engage Chinese lawmakers on important policy issues?

Instead of blasting the Chinese government, which his congressional colleagues did once again the following day during a House Ways and Means Committee hearing, Conyers appealed to the Chinese government to work together even as he frankly pointed out the need for better enforcement of intellectual property laws in the nation of 1.3 billion.

“We want to help China’s special enforcement campaign on combating intellectual property infringement, and this is pretty difficult work,” Conyers said. “They say some of this underground material that is being copied is so enormous, and embedded in the culture itself that it’s going to be difficult to get rid of.”

China recently announced that it is mounting another short-term crackdown on pirates and counterfeiters. In January, a top Chinese official said that more than 4,000 people had been arrested since August for infringing upon intellectual property rights.

Conyers echoed the sentiments of both Presidents Hu and Obama when they said in January that the members of the two nations needed to engage in more dialogue — both through more frequent meetings between the members of their two governments, but also through cultural exchanges.

The Democratic congressman also said that he’s asked Lamar Smith, the Republican Chairman of the Judiciary Committee (and a Texan,) to put together a delegation of congressional and administration officials to visit China later this year.

He acknowledged the creation of the United States’  intellectual property enforcement co-ordinator to formulate a national strategic plan, but he said: “that needs to be made to work a little bit more effectively.”

And, he said: “We’ve got to meet more with our friends from the Chinese Embassy. I understand Mr. Chen [China’s intellectual property attache in Washington, D.C.] is here, and I am grateful for that.”

Conyers delivered a keynote speech that opened up a panel discussion about China and the latest developments its government is taking to build an innovation-fueled society powered by intellectual property.

Broadband Breakfast is a decade-old news organization based in Washington that is building a community of interest around broadband policy and internet technology, with a particular focus on better broadband infrastructure, the politics of privacy and the regulation of social media. Learn more about Broadband Breakfast.

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Broadband Breakfast on December 15, 2021 — Public-Private Partnerships and Broadband Deployment

One of the most important recent developments in the deployment of broadband infrastructure.

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Our Broadband Breakfast Live Online events take place on Wednesday at 12 Noon ET. You can watch the December 15, 2021, event on this page. You can also PARTICIPATE in the current Broadband Breakfast Live Online event. REGISTER HERE.

Wednesday, December 15, 2021, 12 Noon ET — How Public Private Partnerships Represent an Opportunity for Broadband Deployment

In the past two years, public and private entities have greatly increased their collaboration to expand broadband access for Americans. In the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, the telecom industry has been forced to find innovative solutions to connect households to essential online services. In this Broadband Breakfast Live Online event, we will explore the factors driving public-private partnerships in telecom and look at where such partnerships can take us next. Various economic and business forces underlie these partnerships. We’ll also discuss the urgent need for these partnerships in the fight to connect the country.

Panelists for this Broadband Breakfast Live Online session:

  • Jim Baller, Partner, Keller & Heckman
  • Roger Timmerman, CEO, UTOPIA Fiber
  • Other guests have been invited
  • Drew Clark (moderator), Editor and Publisher, Broadband Breakfast

Jim Baller is a partner at Keller & Heckman. He was founder of the US Broadband Coalition, a diverse group that fostered a broad national consensus on the need for a national broadband strategy and recommended the framework that was subsequently reflected in the Federal Communications Commission’s National Broadband Plan. A consultant to Google’s Fiber for Communities project, he is also the co-founder and president of the Coalition for Local Internet Choice, an alliance that works to prevent or remove barriers to the ability of local governments to make the critical broadband infrastructure decisions that affect their communities.

Roger Timmerman has been serving as UTOPIA Fiber’s Executive Director since 2016 and has been a technology management professional in telecommunications and information technology for over 15 years. Roger has been designing and building networks throughout his career in various roles including Vice President of Engineering for Vivint Wireless, CTO for UTOPIA Fiber, Network Engineer for iProvo, and Network Product Manager for Brigham Young University. Roger earned his Bachelor of Science and Master of Science degrees in Information Technology from Brigham Young University.

WATCH HERE, or on YouTubeTwitter and Facebook

As with all Broadband Breakfast Live Online events, the FREE webcasts will take place at 12 Noon ET on Wednesday.

SUBSCRIBE to the Broadband Breakfast YouTube channel. That way, you will be notified when events go live. Watch on YouTubeTwitter and Facebook

See a complete list of upcoming and past Broadband Breakfast Live Online events.

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Broadband Breakfast on December 8, 2021 — Implementation of the Infrastructure, Investment and Jobs Act

In this event, we’ll explore the perspective of the NTIA and state agencies charged with implementing IIJA.

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Our Broadband Breakfast Live Online events take place on Wednesday at 12 Noon ET. You can watch the December 8, 2021, event on this page. You can also PARTICIPATE in the current Broadband Breakfast Live Online event. REGISTER HERE.

Wednesday, December 8, 2021, 12 Noon ET — Implementation of the Infrastructure, Investment and Jobs Act

The passage of the Infrastructure, Investment and Jobs Act on November 5, 2021, represents a significant opportunity for the broadband industry. This includes the providers of high-speed internet service as well as those that seek to enhance the deployment of better broadband. But many questions remain about the details of implementing the IIJA on both the federal and the state levels. In this special “Broadband Breakfast for Lunch” IN PERSON and LIVE ONLINE event, we’ll explore the perspective of the lead federal government agency charged with implementing IIJA’s broadband provision, the Commerce Department’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration. We’ll also consider the important role of state broadband officials in the next phase of IIJA implementation.

Join us IN PERSON on Wednesday, December 8, at Broadband Breakfast Club for Lunch!

There are two ways to participate in this event: IN PERSON or LIVE ONLINE. To attend in person, sign up to attend to attend in person through EventbritePlease arrive for lunch at Clyde’s of Gallery Place, 707 7th Street NW, Washington, D.C., by 11:30 a.m. to be seated for lunch. The program will begin promptly at 12 Noon ET.

Panelists for this Broadband Breakfast Live Online session:

  • Scott Woods, Senior Broadband Program Specialist, NTIA
  • Jase Wilson, CEO, Ready / Broadband Money
  • Other guests have been invited
  • Drew Clark (moderator), Editor and Publisher, Broadband Breakfast

Panelist resources:

As a Senior Broadband Program Specialist with the National Telecommunications and Information Administration’s (NTIA), Scott Woods serves as the Team Lead for the Connecting Minority Communities (CMC) Pilot Program, a new grant program to provide $268 million in direct funding to expand broadband access, connectivity and digital inclusion to eligible Historically Black Colleges or Universities (HBCUs), Tribal Colleges or Universities (TCUs), Minority-serving Institutions (MSIs) and the anchor communities upon which these institutions serve. Mr. Woods also serves as the principal liaison between the BroadbandUSA program office and key strategic partners and external stakeholder groups, including representatives from state and local governments; broadband service providers; for-profit and non-profit corporations; telecom trade associations; community representatives and organizations, and colleges/universities.

Jase Wilson is co-founder and CEO of Ready / Broadband Money, a software, data and financial services firm devoted to helping local ISPs connect more people to better broadband. He lives in the SF bay area with his wife and their son Wafer, aka WWW.

Drew Clark is the Editor and Publisher of BroadbandBreakfast.com and a nationally-respected telecommunications attorney. Drew brings experts and practitioners together to advance the benefits provided by broadband. Under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, he served as head of a State Broadband Initiative, the Partnership for a Connected Illinois. He is also the President of the Rural Telecommunications Congress.

WATCH HERE, or on YouTubeTwitter and Facebook

As with all Broadband Breakfast Live Online events, the FREE webcasts will take place at 12 Noon ET on Wednesday.

SUBSCRIBE to the Broadband Breakfast YouTube channel. That way, you will be notified when events go live. Watch on YouTubeTwitter and Facebook

See a complete list of upcoming and past Broadband Breakfast Live Online events.

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Broadband Breakfast on December 1, 2021 — How the Telecom and Tech Industries Should Approach Privacy

Privacy is rising in the landscape of telecom and technology policy issues issues.

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Our Broadband Breakfast Live Online events take place on Wednesday at 12 Noon ET. You can watch the December 1, 2021, event on this page. You can also PARTICIPATE in the current Broadband Breakfast Live Online event. REGISTER HERE.

Wednesday, December 1, 2021, 12 Noon ET — How the Telecom and Tech Industries Should Approach Privacy

Slowly but surely, privacy is rising in the landscape of telecom and technology policy issues. From the perspective of the technology marketplace, massive data breaches, incessant cybersecurity threats including ransomware, and the market power of the big tech companies (Alphabet’s Google, Apple, Meta’s Facebook, Amazon and Microsoft) force everyone else to adapt defensively. But from the policy perspective, the reality of congressional or Federal Trade Commission action is forcing a new respect on the notion that privacy rules may soon be enshrined into law. This Broadband Breakfast Live Online session will consider how tech and telecom industry players should approach the issue.

Panelists for this Broadband Breakfast Live Online session:

  • Jessica Dheere, Director, Ranking Digital Rights
  • Kirk Nahra, Partner, WilmerHale
  • Drew Clark (moderator), Editor and Publisher, Broadband Breakfast

Panelist resources:

Jessica Dheere is director of Ranking Digital Rights, a program at the think tank New America that evaluates the world’s most powerful tech and telecom companies on their public commitments to protect users’ free expression, privacy, and other rights. She co-authored RDR’s spring 2020 report “Getting to the Source of Infodemics: It’s the Business Model.” Jessica has a master’s degree in media studies from the New School in New York City and was a 2018-19 fellow at the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University.

Kirk J. Nahra is a partner with WilmerHale in Washington, D.C., where he is Co-Chair of the firm’s Cybersecurity and Privacy Practice as well as Co-Chair of the Big Data Practice.  He assists companies in a wide range of industries in analyzing and implementing the requirements of privacy and security laws across the country and internationally.  He is an adjunct professor on various privacy issues at the Washington College of Law at American University and serves as a fellow with the Cordell Institute for Policy in Medicine & Law at Washington University in St. Louis.

Drew Clark is the Editor and Publisher of BroadbandBreakfast.com and a nationally-respected telecommunications attorney. Drew brings experts and practitioners together to advance the benefits provided by broadband. Under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, he served as head of a State Broadband Initiative, the Partnership for a Connected Illinois. He is also the President of the Rural Telecommunications Congress.

WATCH HERE, or on YouTubeTwitter and Facebook

As with all Broadband Breakfast Live Online events, the FREE webcasts will take place at 12 Noon ET on Wednesday.

SUBSCRIBE to the Broadband Breakfast YouTube channel. That way, you will be notified when events go live. Watch on YouTubeTwitter and Facebook

See a complete list of upcoming and past Broadband Breakfast Live Online events.

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