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The politics of intellectual property rights in post-Mao China : technocratization of power, corporate coalitions and multilateral legalism Garcia, Marcelo

Abstract

This is a multidisciplinary analytical effort intended to grasp the rapid development of a market-oriented intellectual property regime in post-Mao China. The time framework covered in this study originates in the early years of reforms conducted under the leadership of Deng Xiaoping, and stretches its scope until the latest set of amendments before China's accession to the World Trade Organization (WTO) in 2001. This thesis postulates that, despite the great attention given to intellectual property rights protection issues in economic and legal circles, the process of domestic reforms in that field remains fundamentally political, deeply embedded in particular historical legacies, particularly influenced by the norms and values of international trade institutions, and at times, subject to diplomatic pressures from commercially-driven corporate coalitions. In order to understand the dynamics and political interactions behind China's intellectual property reforms, two systemic variables have been considered. First, the nature of the international trade regime, namely its norms, rules, principles and internal functioning. Second, the configuration and distribution of power among state and non-state actors in the international sphere. At the same time, the relationship between these two extraterritorial variables and the ongoing process of disaggregation of power within the Chinese political system has been closely examined. The conclusion adopted is that the evolutionary process of intellectual property reforms in post-Mao China was affected by three main variables. First, it was reinforced by the growing importance of IPR protection concerns among intellectual property-dependent multinationals and technologically-advanced countries in the late 1980s. Second, and perhaps more explicitly during the 1990s, China's intellectual property reforms were shaped by the norms, rules, principles of an emerging world trade system built around multilateral legalism. Finally, at the domestic level, its evolution was facilitated by a pro-liberalization economic agenda during the initial phase of reforms, and increasingly framed within a process of continuous bureaucratization and depoliticization of IPR issues in the past decade. Especially in the wake of China's WTO accession, it can be observed that a new elite of highly educated technocrats speaking the language of market economics has started to dominate the process of intellectual property reforms.

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