Changing History through Theft

When I typed “China intellectual property theft” into Google, there were about 1.5 million hits.

Innovators Network, the first hit, said, “China is known in some circles as a bastion of rampant product piracy and intellectual property theft…”

The second hit was from Canada Free Press, which published a piece on Foreign Companies Concerned Over Intellectual Property Theft in China.

When did this cycle of theft begin?

You may be surprised to learn that the British Empire started this cycle of theft in the 19th century.

In the 18th century, China was the most advanced nation on the planet. In 1793, China’s Qianlong Emperor sent a letter to King George III of Britain. The emperor made it known that, “As your Ambassador can see for himself, we possess all things. I set no value on objects strange or ingenious, and have no use for your country’s manufactures.”

Then the Industrial Revolution started in England but wasn’t felt until the 1830s or 1840s.  After almost two thousand years, the West had an advantage and used it.

For All the Tea in China: How England stole the World’s Favorite Drink and Changed History, a March book buyers’ pick for Costco, reveals one of the steps the British took to change the balance of global power.

The author, Sarah Rose, tells the story of how, before 1848, China was the only country that knew how to grow and make tea. The British sent botanist Robert Fortune deep within China to steal plants to grow on British plantations in India.

In addition, by the 1830s, the English had become the major drug-trafficking criminal organization in the world; very few drug cartels of the twentieth century can even touch the England of the early nineteenth century in sheer size of criminality.

By the 1840s, the British and French fleets sailed into China’s rivers and destroyed its fleets forcing China to bend to the will of the West. Besides Western opium trade and the theft of China’s tea, Britain and France forced China’s emperor to allow Christian missionaries free access to Chinese everywhere.

Today, with China’s rise as a major economic and military power, it seems that theft may be changing history again but this time the wind blows from the East to the West.

However, in an attempt to keep the power, Europe and America came up with a new set of rules making the kind of theft they used in the 19th century wrong.

Discover The Opium Wars or the magic of Puer Tea


Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of the concubine saga, My Splendid Concubine & Our Hart. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too.

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4 Responses to Changing History through Theft

  1. Alessandro says:

    Mak Ching Yuen, if ur source of information is CNN and the like (and if u judge from thousands of km away), then ur very flawed knowledge is understandable…yet still not excusable. U’ll be probably surprised to know that u (or, better, WE in the West) are everyday fed a dose of propaganda probably superior to that that exists in any other part of the world.
    Chinese citizens are free to travel back and forth from their country (and millions and millions of them, in an ever growing number, year after year do so), mostly going to Europe and America or Australia.
    Millions (I do not have accurate numbers now, but I think my estimate is correct) of chinese students study abroad (mostly in US, Canada etc.), and a period of study abroad is suggested and welcomed by institutions and families.
    Some sites are banned in China, and it’s known (chinese citizens knows it), many times are sites tied to western propaganda (YES, CNN is one of those..and also BBC)…but at least they know…If u live in America (but also in Italy and other European countries, for that matter), u think u are so free, but probably u don’t know that there exist banned and censored websites there also..cause usually in the West this kind of things are done quietly and “secretly”, or at least “covertly”.
    Before showing ur ignorance, try at least to see what happens around u, first.
    (as for “frauds” and whatever….think just that many of the advancements, scientific and philosophically, in the Renaissance and the Illuminism, came originally from China and from the knowledge that merchants and travelers brought to Europe from China)..

    • Alessandro,

      I recently read that about 60 million Chinese tourists leave China each year to visit other countries (I’ve written of this too but cannot find the link right now to that post—a new post on this subject will be appearing in early May). The US tourist industry is competing for these tourists and they visit just about every country on the earth. My father-in-law’s wife (he remarried a few years after my wife’s mother died of diabetes) has visited Europe, Australia, Singapore, the US three times and many other countries and every time she travels she buys gifts for her family and friends.

      When the Apple iPad 2 came out, they were visiting us in the US and they got up at 4 AM in the morning and walked downtown to the nearest Apple store to wait in line so she could buy one for her son. Chinese money coming to America

      I clicked on the link to Mak Ching Yuen’s Website and discovered that he emigrated from Hong Kong to Canada. Chinese that grew up in Hong Kong are not mainland Chinese and may see China as much of the world does.

      I’ve written of the number of foreign students in the US attending college and mainland Chinese make up the largest number. Many of the children from China’s top leaders are attending universities in the US and Europe too. Bo Xilai (, one of China’s top tier leaders has/had a daughter attending Harvard.

      You are also correct about censorship in the West. A “free press” just means the press is not supposed to be controlled or limited in what they say by the government. However, that doesn’t mean the “free press” is honest and doesn’t twist the news or facts. I’ve written about that topic here too.

      Censorship, misleading information and lies are very much a part of the Western “Free Press”. If one were to read about China in The Economist newspaper/magazine format, he or she would see what I mean. The Economist, although occasionally writes a good piece about China, often writes pure propaganda that is biased against China.

      I’m finding that magazines such as “National Geographic” and “Foreign Policy” appears to be a better, less biased or non biased sources to get news of China.

  2. Mak Ching Yuen says:

    China nowadays is just famous for frauds, scams, knockoff and all that stuff. Their government ban things all the time, limit their civils to exposures to the outside world. Many websties are banned and are not viewable by China’s civils. Even on CNN, I saw an article saying China even ban TV in China for showcasing video that have to do with superstitions, time travelling, bizzard plots, etc,. Terminator is not going in China anymore, too bad!

    If you want Ipad, go to China, you get one for cheap, but it might have a screen with Windows7 on it, haha! It’s just crazy…

    • Mak Ching Yuen,
      What you say of China is true. “China nowadays is just famous for frauds, scams, knockoffs and all that stuff.”

      Yes, that is the perception outside of China and especially in America. The American and Western media created that perception by focusing on it. After all, Americans are famous for having short attention spans and leaky memories.

      However, look closer and we soon discover that America appears to be the global capital of frauds and scams.

      The list that follows took about a half hour to compile and I could have spent more time and added a lot more to the list.

      This is what I found using Google search.

      After reading this list, the question might be “Why does the America media spend so much time focusing on a pirated video or designer purse when frauds and scams of this size or taking place in the United States on a regular basis.

      American sued in world’s largest fraud
      A Saudi Arabian company is suing the former chief executive of a collapsed Mideast bank for $9.2 billion, alleging he helped stage one of the largest global fraud schemes in history.

      Martin Frankel: Sex, Greed and $200 Million Fraud

      Bernard Madoff was the creator of a $65 billion dollar Ponzi scheme, the largest investor fraud every attributed to a single individual

      Lee B. Farkas, the founder of one of the nation’s largest mortgage lending companies, was found guilty by a federal jury this week for masterminding a scheme that cheated investors and the government out of about $2.9 billion.

      #1: Fake Health Insurance
      Two scams were uncovered in 2010 that involved fake health insurance and resulted in thousands of everyday people losing millions of dollars on worthless policies.
      The first scam involved unlicensed companies selling fake policies. The other scam involved companies like Health Care One in Arizona, United Benefits in Tennessee and Consumer Health Benefits in Florida promising to provide major medical insurance but only issuing worthless medical discount cards.
      All in all, well over $100 million in hard-earned money was lost. While the Federal Trade Commission was able to shut down the insurance fraud operations, policyholders still had to scramble to find new coverage and pay bills for doctor’s visits that were essentially not covered.
      Even worse? Some of the scammers have yet to be arrested.

      #2: California Workers’ Compensation Insurance Fraud
      In 2009, a California husband and wife racked up more than $38 million with premium insurance fraud, according to the California Department of Insurance. Taking part in the largest known workers’ compensation insurance fraud case in California history, the two were discovered with the help of their lavish lifestyle of high-end cars, vacations and shopping sprees.
      After being investigated by the Orange County District Attorney’s Office (OCDA) and the Orange County Premium Fraud Task Force, the couple–Michael Vincent Petronella (50) and Devon Lynn Kile (44)–was arrested.
      They were charged with 106 felony counts that included conspiracy to commit a crime, grand theft, insurance fraud, filing a false tax return and misrepresenting facts to a workers’ compensation insurance company. Now their lives will have to continue behind bars.

      #3: Medicare Scam
      In another one of the biggest insurance fraud cases in history, dozens of doctors, nurses and medical professionals were caught participating in a massive Medicare insurance scam.
      The scam spread across the country, affecting Miami, New York City, Detroit, Houston and Baton Rouge, Louisiana and ranged from billing Medicare fraudulently for unnecessary equipment to allowing false claims to go through. In Detroit, the fraudsters even set up fake HIV clinics to fool patients into accepting care that didn’t truly benefit them.
      While the major scam was eventually shut down, it resulted in a loss of over $250 million.

      #4: Colorado Fake Car Insurance Claims
      Around a dozen individuals in Colorado were caught filing 35 fraudulent auto insurance claims with 12 different car insurance companies. The car insurance fraud claims involved staging accidents, committing fraudulent vandalism and faking thefts in and around Denver.
      The indictment revealed that false claims totaled $460,762 between March 17, 2007 and Nov. 10, 2009. Colorado Attorney General John Suthers said the losses could have easily reached into the millions if the scammers were not caught.

      Former GM executive pleads guilty to $6.5 million kickback

      Federal Trade Commission survey of Consumer fraud in the United States
      Nearly 25 million Americans were victims of fraud last year, the Federal Trade Commission said Thursday as it released its first statistical survey of consumer fraud in the United States.

      Then the biggest fraud and scam of maybe all time. There is general agreement that the US housing bubble was the proximate cause for the most severe financial crisis (in the US) since the Great Depression. This crisis has spread to other parts of the world, if for no other reason than the huge size of the American economy. I’ve read that the global losses are about 64 trillion dollars with tens of millions of jobs lost— nine million jobs lost in the US and another 20 million in China and that is only two of the world’s countries.

      The documentary “Inside Job” Exposes 2008 economic crises (fraud) shocking truths

      Time Magazine’s “How Hoffa Haunts the Teamsters”,9171,977287,00.html
      Two weeks before Hoffa disappeared, in 1975, investigators discovered that hundreds of millions of dollars had been stolen from the Teamsters’ largest pension fund.

      This list is but a sample.

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