At the Beijing motor show last November, officials of South Korea's Hyundai Motor Company saw what they describe as a "shocking" scene.
在他们眼里，中国汽车制造商们展示的一些新车型--例如辽宁曙光汽车集团(SG Automotive)的"旗胜"和天马汽车集团(Tianma Auto)的"英雄"--看上去与现代的圣达菲(Santa Fe)和下属企业起亚汽车(Kia Motors)的索兰托(Sorento)很相似。
To their eyes, some of the new models displayed by Chinese carmakers - such as the Qisheng by Liaoning SG Automotive and the Yingxiong by Tianma Auto - looked similar to Hyundai's Santa Fe and its affiliate Kia Motors' Sorento.
"The moment we saw the Chinese models, we thought they were replicas. The front and rear exteriors looked so similar to our sports utility vehicles," recalls Jake Jang, a Hyundai official.
The Chinese carmakers reject Hyundai's accusation. "What the people at Hyundai said about our Qisheng is completely groundless. We made the vehicles ourselves," says Gao Yanlong, an official at Liaoning. Tianma was equally blunt. "We don't need to make any response to the comments by Hyundai. It is their freedom to think that way. But I can tell you, our Yingxiong is fully self-developed. We also registered its related patents with the government," an official says.
Still, Hyundai executives returned home with growing fears that their Chinese rivals are closing the technological and design gap with South Korea - a development that could be disastrous for the company.
The sense of crisis in South Korea's automotive industry was heightened last month when it emerged that some of Kia's workers had been arrested for allegedly selling car technology to China. They?were accused of stealing crucial information on the Sorento and a new model that will be launched in December. It is not known who the alleged buyers of the technology were.
"尽管我们在成本方面相对较弱，但我们认为，我们在质量和科技方面领先中国，"韩国商工会议所(Korea Chamber of Commerce and Industry)的Kim Hyun-soo表示，"但是，当技术外泄可能使中国迅速追赶我们的优势时，这种信心受到了动摇。"
"We believe that we are ahead of China on quality and technology, although we are relatively weak on the cost side," says Kim Hyun-soo at the Korea Chamber of Commerce and Industry. "But the belief is being shaken as technology leaks may allow China to quickly catch up on our strengths."
The fear that Chinese manufacturers are fast catching up has generated a sense of siege among many industrialists and lawmakers, even though South Korea itself grew into the world's 11th largest economy by replicating Japanese and US technology, at least in its initial development stage.
韩国国家情报局(National Intelligence Service)表示，在2003年至2007年5月间，共查获了101起工业间谍案，据称这些案件为国家带来的潜在损失高达1435亿美元。上月，检察部门逮捕了浦项制铁(Posco)子公司Posdata的研究员，原因是其涉嫌试图将韩国开发的无线宽带技术Wibro走私到美国。
The National Intelligence Service says it identified 101 cases of industrial espionage between 2003 and May 2007, which it claims cost the country $143.5bn (?106bn, ￡72bn) in potential losses. Last month prosecutors arrested researchers at Posdata, an affiliate of Posco, the steelmaker, for allegedly attempting to smuggle Wibro - a wireless broadband technology developed by Korea - into the US.
"The world is engaged in an economic war so we are trying hard to prevent technology outflows to make our country an economic superpower," says an NIS official.
Prodded by the increasing sense of insecurity, parliament has legislated to prevent technology leaks by requiring Korean companies to get government permission if they want to transfer core technologies overseas.
The law also provides for industrial spies to be sentenced to up to seven years' jail or fined up to $755,000. For hardline?legislators,?however, even this is not enough to protect South Korea.
由反对党--大国家党(Grand National party)的朴槿惠(Park Geun-hye)牵头，一些韩国议员最近提交了一项法律修正案，旨在阻止外国人收购拥有关键技术的韩国公司。
A group of lawmakers, led by Park Geun-hye of the opposition Grand National party, recently submitted a revised bill aimed at blocking foreigners from taking over domestic companies holding key technologies.