China did not and cannot force foreign enterprises to transfer technology to the country, and any cases of technology transfers are enterprises' own choices driven by the market, Miao Wei, head of the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT), said at a press conference on Tuesday, adding that China has been taking steps to better protect intellectual property rights.
"China couldn't even force State-owned companies to hand over their technology during China's planned economy era. Now it's impossible for the Chinese government to do that to any foreign firms," Miao said.
The comments came after U.S. President Donald Trump's accusations on January 18 that China had forced U.S. companies to hand over their intellectual property in order to operate in the domestic market.
Lu Kang, spokesperson for the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, responded to the accusations at a press briefing later on the same day, saying that China had never done this, and that if such practices had happened, it was without any government intervention.
China will further open up its market and will welcome foreign capital, including those from the US, to invest in China and share the benefits of China's development, Miao noted.
Separately, the MIIT also denied reports that China will block virtual private networks (VPNs), saying that the regulations only target companies and individuals who conduct illegal cross-border operations without government approval and will not affect people's normal visits to foreign sites.