China: rule-taker or rule-maker in the international intellectual property system?

Computer generated grid man with a light where the brain is and DNA strands going horizonally across the top of the picture

Event details

PhD Seminar

Date & time

Thursday 02 November 2017


Coombs Extension building
ANU Canberra


Wenting Cheng


School of Regulation and Global Goverance (RegNet)
02 6125 6033

Intellectual property has been a crucial issue for China in the past four decades. Internationally, it was central to China’s fifteen-year negotiation on its accession to the World Trade Organisation and has been a priority in China-US bilateral relations. Domestically, intellectual property reflects the rapid economic and social transition in China and reveals its crucial regulatory features.

In the late 1970’s and 1980’s, China was a rule-taker in intellectual property - importing regulations under pressure from abroad. Since that time China has enacted comprehensive domestic intellectual property laws. In 2001 the Chinese Trademark Office registered more trademarks than any other office in the world and by 2011 The State Intellectual Property Office of China (SIPO) became the world’s largest patent office.

The Chinese government has promoted intellectual property in its national strategy of ‘innovation-driven development’ and seeks to transform China into the world’s leading intellectual property power.

Wenting’s PhD thesis analyses China’s engagement at the multilateral, bilateral and national levels in areas of geographical indications, the disclosure obligation of origins for genetic resources in patent applications, and technological standardisation. It also analyses roles of sub-state actors and non-state actors in China’s international intellectual property engagement. 

The thesis argues that China’s role in international intellectual property regulation is more nuanced and complicated than a binary categorisation of “rule-maker” or “rule-taker”; its engagement is bounded by various principles that China simultaneously adheres to. China took strategies of modelling and balancing to implement these principles or minimise their potential conflicts. The effects of modelling are compliance and institutional isomorphism, which makes China similar to rather than different from developed countries in intellectual property positions. Balancing leads to constructed inconsistency and the invisibility of China in the international policy debates on intellectual property.

About the speaker

Prior to joining RegNet, Wenting was a researcher at the Intellectual Property Development and Research Centre (IPDRC) of the State Intellectual Property Office P.R. China (SIPO), a think tank directly affiliated with SIPO. At the Centre, she participated in over 20 research projects and submitted policy briefs related to China’s intellectual property laws, policies and national intellectual property strategies, especially focusing on patents.

Wenting holds LL.M. degree from Law School at Peking University. She worked as a short-term expert for IP Key: Strategic Partnership and Cooperation between EU and China on the mapping of intellectual property authorities in China and the feasibility study on establishing an EU-China intellectual property academic network.

Visit her RegNet profile for more detail.

Updated:  10 August 2017/Responsible Officer:  Director, RegNet/Page Contact:  Director, RegNet