Local government ignorance killing spirit of innovation

PUBLISHED : Monday, 03 April, 2006, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 03 April, 2006, 12:00am

Wu Jinglian, economist and academic

Local governments should change their attitude towards intellectual property rights protection if China wants to reshape itself into an innovative economy, a leading economist says.

'There have been cases that after some enterprises had launched innovation projects, the local governments encouraged other enterprises to copy their products, because they have the belief that 'copying could help boost competitiveness of the whole society'. And as a result, no companies want to be innovative,' said Wu Jinglian, who was formerly a chief economist with the Development Research Centre under the State Council and is now a professor with the China Europe Business School.

Describing intellectual property rights protection as the key issue in brewing homegrown technologies and innovations, Professor Wu said the governments must do more than just strictly observing the Copy Right Law.

'The problem now is not whether to crack down [on piracy] or not, or if the measures are strict enough. The problem is the governments have been very close to some enterprises,' he said.

'Of course it's the central government's job to carry out the piracy law, but it can't send people to local areas whenever things happen. So the issue now is that local governments must change their old mindset.'

In January, the central government unveiled a plan to turn China into global power in 15 years by encouraging homegrown innovations and technologies with increasing government funding for research and development.

During this year's National People's Congress and CPPCC sessions, which ended last month, delegates criticised mainland courts' efforts in cracking down on intellectual property rights abuses with many saying judges and state prosecutors for being too soft on abusers.