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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

With the flourish of a significant concession, China said today that it will punish companies and individuals who steal intellectual property, a primary U.S. complaint. But China hands are skeptical.

"What they’ve done in the past is fail to enforce or, when they have to enforce, find somebody they don’t like, blame them, and then say to the Americans, 'See?'"
— Jim Lewis of the Center for Strategic and International Studies

The backdrop: Over the years, China has routinely batted away allegations of government-backed IP theft as hearsay, even when among the things stolen were plans for the F-35 fighter jet and a supersonic U.S. undersea missile.

The Xi-Obama agreement was good as far as it went, but it did not go far enough, says Samm Sacks, a cyber policy fellow at New America, a think tank.

  • One major omission: The deal omitted a separate issue — forced technology transfers through which Beijing compels U.S. companies to share secrets with Chinese partners in order to gain access to China's massive market.
  • Sacks expresses doubts that the transfers will stop.
  • "I have not seen any indication from the Chinese side that this is an issue that they have any plans to address," Sacks says.

Go deeper: Why Chinese theft of U.S. tech is hard to stop

Go deeper

Pakistan PM will "absolutely not" allow CIA to use bases for Afghanistan operations

Pakistan will "absolutely not" allow the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency to use bases on its soil for cross-border counterterrorism missions after American forces withdraw from Afghanistan, Prime Minister Imran Khan tells "Axios on HBO" in a wide-ranging interview airing Sunday at 6 pm ET.

Why it matters: The quality of counterterrorism and intelligence capabilities in Afghanistan is a critical question facing the Biden administration as U.S. forces move closer to total withdrawal by Sept. 11.

5 hours ago - World

U.S. wants nuclear deal done before Iran's new president takes power

Iranian negotiatorAbbas Araghchi arrives at the Grand Hotel Wien for the nuclear talks. Photo: Joe Klamar/AFP via Getty Images

The Biden administration wants to finalize a deal with Iran to return to the 2015 nuclear deal in the six weeks remaining before a new Iranian president is inaugurated, a U.S. official tells Axios.

Key quote: The official said it would be "concerning" if talks dragged on into early August, when Iran's transition is due to take place. "If we don't have a deal before a new government is formed, I think that would raise serious questions about how achievable it's going to be," the official said.