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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.

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Broadband Breakfast on June 1, 2022 — The Supreme Court, Social Media and the Culture Wars

The Supreme Court on Tuesday blocked a Texas law banning social media companies from removing posts based on views expressed.

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See “Experts Reflect on Supreme Court Decision to Block Texas Social Media Bill,” Broadband Breakfast, June 2, 2022.

Our Broadband Breakfast Live Online events take place on Wednesday at 12 Noon ET. Watch the event on Broadband Breakfast, or REGISTER HERE to join the conversation.

Wednesday, June 1, 2022, 12 Noon ET – BREAKING NEWS EVENT! – The Supreme Court, Social Media and the Culture Wars

The Supreme Court on Tuesday blocked a Texas law that would ban large social media companies from removing posts based on the views they express. Join us for this breaking news event of Broadband Breakfast Live Online in which we discuss the Supreme Court, social media and the culture wars.

Panelists:

  • Scott McCollough, Attorney, McCollough Law Firm
  • Amy Peikoff, Chief Policy Officer, Parler
  • Ari Cohn, Free Speech Counsel, TechFreedom
  • Nora Benavidez, Senior Counsel and Director of Digital Justice and Civil Rights at Free Press
  • Drew Clark (presenter and host), Editor and Publisher, Broadband Breakfast

Panelist resources:

W. Scott McCollough has practiced communications and Internet law for 38 years, with a specialization in regulatory issues confronting the industry.  Clients include competitive communications companies, Internet service and application providers, public interest organizations and consumers.

Amy Peikoff is the Chief Policy Officer of Parler. After completing her Ph.D., she taught at universities (University of Texas, Austin, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, United States Air Force Academy) and law schools (Chapman, Southwestern), publishing frequently cited academic articles on privacy law, as well as op-eds in leading newspapers across the country on a range of issues. Just prior to joining Parler, she founded and was President of the Center for the Legalization of Privacy, which submitted an amicus brief in United States v. Facebook in 2019.

Ari Cohn is Free Speech Counsel at TechFreedom. A nationally recognized expert in First Amendment law, he was previously the Director of the Individual Rights Defense Program at the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), and has worked in private practice at Mayer Brown LLP and as a solo practitioner, and was an attorney with the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights. Ari graduated cum laude from Cornell Law School, and earned his Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Nora Benavidez manages Free Press’s efforts around platform and media accountability to defend against digital threats to democracy. She previously served as the director of PEN America’s U.S. Free Expression Programs, where she guided the organization’s national advocacy agenda on First Amendment and free-expression issues, including press freedom, disinformation defense and protest rights. Nora launched and led PEN America’s media-literacy and disinformation-defense program. She also led the organization’s groundbreaking First Amendment lawsuit, PEN America v. Donald Trump, to hold the former president accountable for his retaliation against and censorship of journalists he disliked.

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.

Photo of the Supreme Court from September 2020 by Aiva.

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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 June 29, 2022 — Broadband Mapping and Data

Broadband Breakfast returns to one of the subjects that it knows best: Broadband mapping and data.

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Our Broadband Breakfast Live Online events take place on Wednesday at 12 Noon ET. Watch the event on Broadband Breakfast, or REGISTER HERE to join the conversation.

Wednesday, June 29, 2022, 12 Noon ET –Broadband Mapping and Data

Now that the National Telecommunications and Information Administration’s Notice of Funding Opportunity has been released, attention turns to a core activity that must take place before broadband infrastructure funds are distributed: The Federal Communications Commission’s updated broadband maps. Under the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, as implemented by the NTIA’s Broadband Equity, Access and Deployment program, these address-level maps from the FCC will determine the allocation of funds among states and serve as a key source of truth. Our panelists will also consider the role of state-level maps, the NTIA challenge process and other topics. Join Broadband Breakfast as we return to one of the subjects that we know best: Broadband data and mapping.

Panelists:

  • Guests have been invited.
  • Drew Clark (moderator), Editor and Publisher, Broadband Breakfast

Panelist resources:

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 June 15, 2022 – Broadband Breakfast Live Online from Fiber Connect in Nashville

Join conference attendees in conversation on key connectivity issues.

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Our Broadband Breakfast Live Online events take place on Wednesday at 12 Noon ET. Watch the event on Broadband Breakfast, or REGISTER HERE to join the conversation.

Wednesday, June 15, 2022, 12 Noon ET – Broadband Breakfast Live Online from Fiber Connect in Nashville

Join a conversation with attendees at the annual Fiber Connect conference in Nashville, Tennessee:

The purpose of this special session of Broadband Breakfast Live Online is to highlight some of the concerns that have been expressed by municipalities about the notice of funding opportunity recently issued by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration on the Broadband Equity, Access and Deployment program. In this special session from Fiber Connect in Nashville, panelists will analyze what the NTIA got right and where it has blind spots. Equally importantly, we will discuss what can be done next so that cities have the opportunity to expand fiber to every corner of their communities when they seek to do so.

Panelists:

  • Gary Bolton, President and CEO, the Fiber Broadband Association
  • Scott Menhart, Chief Information Technology Office, Traverse City, Michigan
  • Kim McKinley, Chief Marketing Officer, UTOPIA Fiber
  • Bob Knight, executive board of the American Association of Public Broadband
  • Drew Clark (presenter and host), Editor and Publisher, Broadband Breakfast

Bob Knight is a broadband industry professional and public official. He serves on the executive board of the American Association of Public Broadband and is in his seventh term as a commissioner of economic and community development for Town of Ridgefield, Connecticut.

Gary Bolton serves as president and CEO of the Fiber Broadband Association — the largest trade association in the Americas dedicated to all-fiber-optic broadband. With more than three decades in the telecom industry, Bolton joined the Fiber Broadband Association as president and CEO in 2020 after serving on the association’s board as vice chairman, treasurer and vice chairs of public policy and marketing committees. Prior to taking the leadership role at the Fiber Broadband Association, he spent 11 years at ADTRAN serving as vice president of global marketing and government affairs.

Scott Menhart, the chief information technology officer for Traverse City Light & Power (TCLP), has more than 20 years of experience in technology and broadband industries. He has been actively involved with multiple fiber to the premise deployments and recently launched TCLPfiber, a full municipal community network. TCLP currently serves nearly 13,000 electric customers and is currently working to expand TCLPfiber services to these customers.

Kim McKinley helps lead UTOPIA Fiber as its Deputy Director and Chief Marketing Officer. In 2010, she joined the network as a member of its turnaround team, and has helped cement today’s UTOPIA Fiber as the fastest-growing, highest-rated, and most-successful Open Access network in the United States.

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.

Photo of Gaylord Opryland, home of Fiber Connect, by Ken Lund used with permission

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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