UPDATE 2-U.S. to tackle trade secret theft from China, others

Doug Palmer

* USTR Kirk: trade secret theft from China a growing concern

* Another official says strategy not aimed at any one nation

WASHINGTON, Feb 20 (Reuters) - The White House said on

Wednesday it will step up diplomatic pressure and study whether

tougher laws are needed to stop a wave of trade secret theft

from China and other countries in a strategy that offered few

new ideas for dealing with the threat.

"Trade secret theft threatens American businesses,

undermines national security and places the security of the U.S.

economy in jeopardy," the White House said in a report that laid

out its strategy. "These acts also diminish U.S. export

prospects around the globe and put American jobs at risk."

"Emerging trends indicate that the pace of economic

espionage and trade secret theft against U.S. corporations is

accelerating," the White House warned in the report, which

listed threats to corporate intellectual property from cyber

attacks and more conventional methods of economic espionage.

The report did not specifically name any country as the main

culprit. But it listed more than a dozen cases of trade secret

theft by Chinese companies or individuals, far more than any

other country mentioned in the report.

U.S. corporate victims of the Chinese theft included General

Motors, Ford, DuPont, Dow Chemical and Cargill.

"For an economy like ours, that's going to win based on our

innovation of what we produce and create, this is a critically

important issue," U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk told

Reuters in an interview ahead of the report's release.

The Obama administration released the strategy one day after

a U.S. computer security company said it believed a secretive

Chinese military unit was behind a series of hacking attacks.

China flatly denied the accusations made by the company,

Mandiant, calling them "unprofessional." Its Defense Ministry

said hacking attacks are a global problem and that China is one

of the biggest victims of cyber assaults.

Victoria Espinel, the White House intellectual property

rights enforcement coordinator, said the new strategy

coordinates and improves existing U.S. government efforts to

protect the innovation that drive the American economy and

supports jobs in the United States.

Kirk said the problem of trade secret theft in China was a

factor in the decisions by some U.S. companies to move

operations back to the United States.

The companies have "had very frank conversations with the

Chinese, (saying) 'you know it's one thing to accept a certain

level of copyright knock-offs, but if you're going to take our

core technology, then we're better off being in our home

country," Kirk told Reuters.