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Senator Stabenow Shines Spotlight on Chinese Attempt to Force Michigan Business Owner to Hand Over Technology

Press Release

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U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow today joined with a Michigan business owner and the head of the Alliance for American Manufacturing to discuss new evidence that the Chinese are strong-arming Michigan businesses into handing over their intellectual property and technology as the cost of doing business in China. Michigan businessman Wayne Olsen contacted Senator Stabenow in early January to share a letter he received when he was trying to export his products to China. He was repeatedly asked to sign away his rights by completing a form letter that said exporting to China was contingent on turning over sensitive information about how his products are made. Senator Stabenow and her staff have been working with Mr. Olsen on the issue for weeks.

Senator Stabenow said: "China has a clear pattern of flagrantly violating trade rules and it is long past time to stand up to them. China sells plenty of products here, but when our businesses want to sell there they are told they have to turn over all their intellectual property and give away their technology. That's outrageous. For years I have been leading the effort to create a Trade Enforcement Unit to fight back against other countries illegal trade violations, and I believe we may finally have the momentum to get that done."

Wayne Olsen, General Manager of R&B Electronics said: "I was shocked when we were told we had to turn over all of our technical product information and basically forfeit all of our rights if we wanted to sell in the Chinese market. There was no way we were going to agree to that. The Chinese are engaged in clear attempts to break trade laws and take American ideas to short-cut the development process. I am glad Senator Stabenow is standing up on behalf of Michigan manufacturers on this issue."

Scott Paul, Executive Director of the Alliance for American Manufacturing, said: "China employs a pattern of predatory trade practices on a massive scale, including forced intellectual property and technology transfer. China's policies undercut American companies and cost us jobs. It's essential that federal action be taken to challenge these abuses before they completely undermine the job recovery underway in U.S. manufacturing. Senator Stabenow has been a strong leader in standing up for American manufacturers and we are glad her initiatives continue to gain support."

Senator Stabenow has been one of the country's strongest leaders in cracking down on other nations' illegal trade practices for years. Last year, Senator Stabenow introduced the American Competitiveness Plan to help ensure U.S. businesses and workers can become more globally competitive and create more jobs here in America. The plan includes several bills, which now have bipartisan support, designed to stand up for American businesses by cracking down on other countries' trade violations that give their companies an anti-competitive advantage.

One of the main provisions of the American Competitiveness Plan would create a trade enforcement unit to crackdown on countries who violate trade laws to gain an anti-competitive advantage over our businesses and workers. A Trade Enforcement Unit would have the ability to investigate and take action against forced intellectual property and technology transfer. Senator Stabenow first proposed the creation of a trade enforcement unit in 2005.

Other provisions in the plan include other issues Senator Stabenow has been a leader on for years, including a bill to crackdown on China's currency manipulation (which passed the Senate last year with overwhelming support) and to strengthen penalties for foreign companies who steal American technology and intellectual property.

Headquartered in Sault Ste. Marie, R&B Electronics was established in 1985 when Mr. & Mrs. Rogers began manufacturing aerospace components in their home. This project rapidly expanded into a full-fledged business, which today employs nearly 80 people in two states- Michigan and Texas.

The Alliance for American Manufacturing (AAM) is a unique non-partisan, non-profit partnership forged to strengthen manufacturing in the United States. AAM believes that an innovative and growing manufacturing base is vital to America's economic and national security, as well as to providing good jobs for future generations. AAM achieves its mission through research, public education, advocacy, strategic communications, and coalition building around the issues that matter most to America's manufacturing sector.

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