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Country-Specific Factors Affecting Compliance

In addition to the factors affecting TRIPS compliance which are not specific to China, Chaps. 6 and 7 illustrated the factors related to China specifically that have influenced overall compliance with the TRIPS Agreement in both the short term and long term. The basic parameters of China, such as the country’s vast size, could be considered as significant factors influencing compliance with the TRIPS Agreement. However, in contrast with previous studies, historical and cultural factors, such as the continuing influence of Confucianism on societal values, were largely dismissed by respondents in both phases of this study as being not significant influences on the current IP system in China. China’s previous behaviour in the IP field was also not perceived to be a significant indicator of present-day compliance. In fact, the only parameter which was consistently found to have a noticeable effect on China’s TRIPS compliance was its size. China’s sheer size has obvious implications for the enforcement of intellectual property rights; of particular concern is the division that exists between central and local levels of government in China. Therefore, although China’s size is a major influence on the current IP system, overall the parameters are not highly significant in the model of China’s compliance with the TRIPS Agreement.

In contrast to parameters, there were found to be several fundamental factors which are of prime importance for China’s TRIPS compliance. Fundamental factors were considered under the headings of attitudes and values, political and institutional factors and economic factors. In terms of attitudes and values, although the cultural influences of Confucianism and socialism were largely rejected as strong influences on the contemporary IP system, the attitudes and values amongst the public in China were seen as important by respondents in this study. In fact, a lack of awareness of IP rights was highlighted as the most significant influence on the current IP system by respondents in 2005 and also proved to be very significant a decade later. Although awareness of IP had improved between 2005 and 2015 amongst both the general public and amongst domestic Chinese enterprises, there was still felt to be room for improvements in terms of awareness of the full strategic potential of IP. Overall, attitudes and values in China are more significant influences on the development of the IP system and corresponding TRIPS compliance than the cultural factors which are often blamed by external commentators. However, other fundamental factors could also be considered to be significant overall.

Political and institutional factors are major contributors to the development of the current IP system in China. The main political and institutional factor which contributes to the state of the current IP system in China is the lack of consistency in enforcement, as noted in both 2005 and 2015. Frustration was expressed by many respondents at inconsistent enforcement of IP rights, although many respondents also praised the administrative enforcement system. Turning to economic factors, local protectionism was one of the most significant factors identified by respondents in both 2005 and 2015. Some improvements were noted by 2015, with some big cities felt to operate effective enforcement mechanisms, although some inland regions were still thought to suffer from tendencies towards local protectionism. Finally, proximate factors also play a crucial role in influencing the compliance of China’s current IP system with the TRIPS Agreement. Clearly the most significant aspect of proximate factors analysed in this study was the administrative capacity within the IP system. Specifically, the level of penalties imposed on infringers was seen as inadequate by many respondents in both 2005 and 2015.

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