Apparently, the idea that China would ignore US intellectual property claims as a weapon in Trump's trade war is simply unimaginable to Rampell, the Post's lead economic columnist. It doesn't even merit a sentence in a column devoted to the alternatives China might pursue given the limited amount of US imports on which it can impose tariffs. Since Rampell can't imagine how this weapon can work, let me try.
Suppose that China's government announces that, in response to Trump's latest round of tariffs, it will not be enforcing any of Microsoft's copyrights, starting on September 1, 2018. This means not only that everyone in China would be able to buy computers with Windows operating system and Microsoft's Office Suite without sending Bill Gates a penny, but computers manufactured in China could be sent all over the world without Microsoft collecting anything. The same would be true for Apple's iPhones.
This would also apply to prescription drugs. China could start manufacturing generic versions of drugs like the Hepatitis C drugs Sovaldi and Harvoni, which have list prices of more than $80,000 for a course of treatment. China could make the generic versions available both to its own people and the rest of the world for a few hundred dollars, with the manufacturers still making a healthy profit.
And, that latest Hollywood hit movie? Imagine anyone, anywhere in the world could download it in seconds for free. Of course, the same would apply to new music as well as the older movies and music that still generate money for the entertainment industry.
Does anyone think these moves might get a little attention from US corporations? My guess is that they would probably take notice and probably be threatening Republican members of Congress in a really big way if they didn't act quickly to rein in their president.
But, that's just my speculation.