China IPR

Two New Papers from the University of Indiana

The Research Center for Chinese Politics & Business at the University of Indiana has just published two new papers, available for download free of charge at   One is by standards and IPR “veteran” An Baisheng, the other by economist political scientists Bruce Reynolds and Susan Shirk.   

I worry a bit about the conclusion in the Reynolds and Shirk piece that:  “in IP one would have to applaud the success of the WTO framework in mediating conflict”.  This seems to place an undue emphasis on the more edgy bilateral side of IPR, including 301-type exercises, without giving enough attention to domestic economic and political developments, including the extensive “softer” forms of engagement which don’t seem to grab the headlines.  After all, bilateral discussion in patents – which is now at the center of innovation type discussions with China – were never suspended during the WTO case, and in fact continued to grow despite the confrontational tone that existed at that time.  Much of that discussion now takes place with China having a seat at the table of the IP-5, the five largest patent offices in the world.  Moreover some of the softer forms of engagement may actually involve greater stakes than some of the more confrontational issues, and may also implicate areas that are not addressed by the WTO/TRIPS, such as protection of copyright over the Internet (the “making available right”).   However, as the authors point out, engagement may be more substantive in IPR than in currency discussions.

The summaries are below:

• November 2012

An Baisheng (安佰生), “The Global Governance of Standardization: The Challenges of Convergence” (标准化的全球治理: 收敛的挑战), Indiana University Research Center for Chinese Politics & Business, Working Paper #32, November 2012.
Abstract: The current standardization regime requires rigid convergence towards international standards. This model is confronted with various limits and cannot fully attain its objectives. Standardization policy requires a balance between equity and efficiency and has important domestic public policy implications. At the same time, it exercises great influence on international competitive strategies. The multiple objectives, explicit or implicit, in the domestic policies for standards have complicated standards governance at the global level. In recent years, the public-private partnerships and multilevel governance have been among the salient characteristics of global governance of technical standards. These characteristics reflect a new model for the governance of standards, namely a model based on regulatory cooperation and a more reflexive approach.


Bruce Reynolds and Susan K. Sell, “China’s Role in Global Governance – Foreign Exchange and Intellectual Property: A Comparison”. Indiana University Research Center for Chinese Politics & Business, Working Paper #31, November 2012.
Abstract: This paper compares Chinese participation in global governance related to intellectual property (IP) and exchange rate policy (ER). Two conclusions hold for both areas. First, China’s behavior within each has demonstrated a recursive dynamic between growing domestic interest articulation, experience/capacity, relative power, and foreign pressure: the first three have caused foreign pressure to be less effective in inducing Chinese policy change. Second, China’s behavior has become more assertive and effective in promoting its preferred regimes within GGOs. Recent successes in ER (an advantageous use of pegging in 2008-10) and in the World Trade Organization (prevailing in key elements of a landmark IP enforcement dispute) are just two examples. We expect China to continue to press for reformist (but not radical) rule adjustments in its favor. But we also find notable differences between the two governance areas. In particular, in IP one would have to applaud the success of the WTO framework in mediating conflict. But when it comes to disputes over what exchange rate mechanism (ERM) China should adopt, the IMF, despite its deep expertise and authority, has played a peripheral role, and other fora (OECD, G20, etc.) are even less important. This may flow from the striking differences in the nature of the two governance regimes.

Categories: China IPR

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