China’s (Indigenous) Growth In Innovation!

I read a National Bureau of Asian Research report titled, ‘China’s IP Transition: Rethinking Intellectual Property Rights in a Rising China’…and found it to be an insightful strategic window into China’s national intellectual property (innovation agenda) policy.

While I do not wish to dispute the thoroughness of the research which the reports’ authors obviously conducted…and articulated so well, I do find the word indigenous somewhat disconcerting in the context of applying it as a broad descriptor of how China – has achieved and intends to sustain – its innovation strategy (government policy) agenda.

I was in China (Shanghai) in 2008 when this policy rollout ‘went very public’…through China’s media sources, i.e., CCTV and print.  It was the lead story on (English language) CCTV for several days with extended segments-exerts devoted to showcasing various, presumably Chinese government initiated – sponsored gatherings to elevate awareness and perhaps rally support for China’s ‘transition to intellectual property’. 

  • All appeared very political, not substantially unlike what one would likely see – expect occurring in other countries, including the U.S. regarding a ‘sea change’ of this magnitude.  

Many of the events depicted in the visual media and in print, several of which I observed on CCTV appeared to…originate in Beijing, no particular surprise there.  Interestingly, in several of the CCTV stories, large scale education initiatives to be held in specific provinces regarding intellectual property were being planned and organized, presumably to draw attention to and familiarize business leadership with their government’s version of intellectual property rights.

  • Admittedly, I was variously skeptical about how or whether China’s perspectives and version of IP rights would, or could, have relevance to – be reasonably aligned with those long held by the west? 

As most anyone knows who has visited China in this decade…one does not have to walk far in a city to see evidence of entrepreneurism and entrepreneurial thinking which could understandably be characterized as – assumed to be indigenous. However, my open source work, investigative research, and publishing on…

  • information asset protection and economic espionage issues for 20+ years
  • has influenced me to suggest that the term predatorial is also a relevant and objective descriptor of – contributor to China’s innovation policy agenda.

It is not my intent that the term predatorial, as I have chosen to apply it here…be necessarily interpreted as being wholly skeptical of this ‘IP’ initiative undertaken by the Chinese government…

  • rather, I am suggesting the term predatorial, has significant relevance for China, because of the indigenously embedded culture over a 3000 – 5000 year span of a collective ownership and use of others intellectual and structural capital, i.e., ideas. 

At minimum, the word predatorial serves as a partial explanation for…China’s phenomenal and rapid business – economic – innovation growth which some western researchers – writers describe as the world’s largest and most rapid transfer of wealth.

After all, steadily rising percentages of people globally…live and work in an increasingly (knowledge) intangible asset intensive and dependent (global) economies wherein it is an…

  • indisputable – irreversible economic fact that 80+% of most company’s business (large, medium, and small) value, sources of revenue, and ‘building blocks’ for growth, wealth creation, competitiveness, and sustainability lie in – evolve directly from intangible assets, i.e.,
  • countless variations of intellectual, structural, and relationship capital, of which intellectual properties, i.e., patents, trademarks, trade secrets, and copyrights, are just one.

I assume ‘indigenous innovation’ is a phrase Chinese policy makers carefully selected and cultivated to…fit the underlying political agendas for their venture – initiative into intellectual properties.  But, I believe the term predatorial used to describe how countries supplant – achieve rapid growth in innovation is applicable to numerous global actors, not just China.

China, in my view, is now immersed in what I respectfully call the ‘third quarter of a generation…that seems to recognize, and in a growing number of instances, actually partakes in personal private property, now intellectual property, which is variously astounding. 

But, in China, as in numerous other countries with communist – socialist legacies…there is virtually no intellectual property legacy to follow or serve as a guide.  What’s more, China, like several other countries, has countless ‘legacy free players’, a phrase I first saw applied in Thomas Friedman’s books.  While I am certainly not positioning myself to be an arbiter of Friedman’s work, I have consistently used this phrase in a context of describing various countries’ actors who have yet to fully embrace and consistently practice what I  refer to as an ‘intellectual property rights protection and respect ethic’, hence they are ‘legacy free players’!

China may be moving in a direction, with respect to intellectual property matters which may ultimately align with the west’s…version, interpretation, sanctity and presumptive respect for personal intellectual property rights…

  • but, advisedly, China has a ways to go yet, in my judgment, to broadly use the term indigenous to describe the paths and strategies the government has outlined to achieve the intent and spirit of the language found in their national innovation agenda.

I encourage all those interested to read the report cited in this blog post and draw their own conclusions

Michael D. Moberly, February 27, 2019 (originally developed as a post here on May 16, 2012) St. Louis [email protected] the ‘Business Intangible Asset Blog’ since May 2006, 650+ published posts, where one’s attention span, business intangible assets, and solutions converge’!

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