In recent decades, China’s state economy and technological knowhow have taken significant strides forward, making China an important player on the global stage. Remarkable social changes are taking place in China, as the country is in the process of reforming its currently labour-intensive economy into one that is more adapted to methods required for high-level technological expertise and innovations. The development of intellectual property rights has had an impact on societal and economic change in China, particularly after the establishment of the People’s Republic of China in 1949. This change has been especially marked after the economic reform of 1979 and the introduction of the Reform and Opening-up Policy.

A recent doctoral dissertation by Yajie Zhao, examined at the Faculty of Law of the University of Helsinki, assesses the role of the intellectual property system in a process where China has gained on Western countries both economically and technologically. The dissertation examines how the Chinese intellectual property system is intertwined with the country’s science and technology policy, and how Chinese society has adopted the system.

According to the dissertation, the primary reason for the evolution of the Chinese intellectual property system has been internal development needs, even though external pressure has played its part as well. An advanced legislative system that observes international standards has been established in the country, yet law enforcement methods are characteristically Chinese. An administrative system for registration and examination is focused on domestic industry, but bases its operations on international practices.

The intellectual property system may help open China’s economy and society to the outside world, while promoting the creation and deployment of new innovations. Intellectual property rights serve as a link to China’s current international trade.

The Chinese government is aiming to further advance its economic reforms, in spite of many significant structural, social and formal obstacles in the way.

Yajie Zhao, LL.M, defended her doctoral dissertation in a public examination on 23 March 2018 at 12.00 at the Faculty of Law of the University of Helsinki on the following topic: "China's Intellectual Property System in the Process of Catch-up - with Patent in Focus". The public examination was held at Porthania, auditorium PIII, Yliopistonkatu 3.