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Behind the myth of China’s great technology grab

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NEW YORK - For all the concern over China’s targeting of foreign intellectual property, how much forced transfer of leading-edge technology has really happened?

By the looks of the Chinese auto industry, hardly any. If there has been, then Beijing has precious little to show for it in a market of 25 million cars a year.

Take the case of Brilliance China Automotive Holdings Ltd. The Hong Kong-listed company has lost 53 percent of its value since news broke earlier this year that BMW AG was taking a majority stake in their joint venture. The German luxury carmaker was the first foreign auto partner to jump in after Beijing removed ownership caps.

Their 15-year-old venture, BMW Brilliance Automotive Ltd., has been a lucrative business. Average daily unit sales rose 18 percent from a year earlier in the first two weeks of December, amid an auto market where demand has been plummeting. BMW Brilliance, which already makes some models solely for China, plans to produce more vehicles locally and import fewer.

None of BMW’s luster has rubbed off on its partner. Since the venture started, Brilliance’s non-BMW sales growth has been dismal. Sales of........

© The Japan Times