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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The Chinese government announced Tuesday that it would implement a total of 38 different punishments for companies that engage in intellectual property theft, an issue that has long been a source of headaches in U.S.-China trade negotiations, Bloomberg reports.

The big picture: IP theft by Chinese companies poses a threat to both national security and American companies' ability to turn profits, currently costing between $225 billion and $600 billion annually, according to U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer. The Chinese government says violators would be restricted from receiving financial support from the government and designated in various databases, including a registry that could be accessed by foreign lenders.

What they're saying: In its press release, the Chinese government wrote, "The release of the memo, one of the most detailed documents on intellectual protection issued by China, signals a further step by China to strengthen IPR protection and shows China's sincerity in addressing American concern over the issue. It could be useful as part of the U.S.-China trade discussions, but this is not a direct reaction to pressure from the U.S."

Our thought bubble, via Axios contributor Bill Bishop: It sounds like for the responsible legal persons and managers of corporate entities, not individuals, these penalties could be significant if fully implemented. Questions remain whether the penalties also apply to platforms like those run by Alibaba and JD.com that have continuing issues with sales of counterfeit goods.

Worth noting: As recently as last month, the Chinese government has denied that IP theft even takes place. Much of Chinese companies' malign activities are also state-backed, raising the question of whether the government is serious about putting an end to a practice that they themselves engage in.

Go deeper:

Go deeper

Off the Rails

Episode 5: The secret CIA plan

Photo illustration: Aïda Amer, Sarah Grillo/Axios. Photo: Zach Gibson/Getty Images

Beginning on election night 2020 and continuing through his final days in office, Donald Trump unraveled and dragged America with him, to the point that his followers sacked the U.S. Capitol with two weeks left in his term. This Axios series takes you inside the collapse of a president.

Episode 5: Trump vs. Gina — The president becomes increasingly rash and devises a plan to tamper with the nation's intelligence command.

In his final weeks in office, after losing the election to Joe Biden, President Donald Trump embarked on a vengeful exit strategy that included a hasty and ill-thought-out plan to jam up CIA Director Gina Haspel by firing her top deputy and replacing him with a protege of Republican Congressman Devin Nunes.

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

  1. Health: CDC director defends agency's response to pandemic — CDC warns highly transmissible coronavirus variant could become dominant in U.S. in March.
  2. Politics: Empire State Building among hundreds to light up in Biden inauguration coronavirus tribute.
  3. Vaccine: Fauci: 100 million doses in 100 days is "absolutely" doable.
  4. Economy: Unemployment filings explode again.
  5. Tech: Kids' screen time sees a big increase.

Biden Cabinet confirmation schedule: When to watch hearings

Joe Biden and Kamala Harris on Jan. 16 in Wilmington, Delaware. Photo: Angela Weiss/AFP via Getty Images

The first hearings for President-elect Joe Biden's Cabinet nominations begin on Tuesday, with testimony from his picks to lead the departments of State, Homeland and Defense.

Why it matters: It's been a slow start for a process that usually takes place days or weeks earlier for incoming presidents. The first slate of nominees will appear on Tuesday before a Republican-controlled Senate, but that will change once the new Democratic senators-elect from Georgia are sworn in.