Zhao Yajie, UH, holds presentations on Globalization and IP in Wuhan

Zhao Yajie, a doctoral researcher at the University of Helsinki, Faculty of Law held three presentations on globalization and IP at the First International Young Scholars Forum at the Wuhan University of Technology on April 21-23, 2017. The Forum invited young scholars from around the world to participate in the event to see how China has developed, and to open an academic discussion among young scholars in all fields of studies, including law. More than 120 advanced young scholars from over 36 different countries were selected from over 400 applicants to participate in the Forum. (See the news article in Chinese).

Zhao Yajie holding a presentation at Wuhan University of Technology. Photo by Wuhan University of Technology.

Ms Zhao’s area of specialty, intellectual property (IP), has been marked as one of the century’s “strategic subjects” for China. Considering the increased impact of China’s actions on the global society, the way China handles IP issues is an area of great importance and attention worldwide. In her two presentations on “Globalization and its impact on IP,” one held for a group of Social Science faculties and one for scholars, professors and experts in the field of law, Ms Zhao focused on globalization and the developments of the IP system in the Chinese context. “While it is necessary for China to fulfill the basic international requirements, this doesn’t necessarily mean that China has to go along with the EU and US centered standards on IP administrative and judicial implementations,” Ms Zhao explains in an interview with the China Law Center.

China is at this crucial transition period: its economy is transforming from an exports and labour intensive economic model to knowledge-based economy. Since China’s reform and opening-up policy, China has made great efforts in the field of IP. Its speedy catch-up on international IP norms is very impressive. Its enforcement on IP, both on judicial and administrative protections are visibly improved. However, China has a different historical and cultural context than developed western countries. “Although the Chinese government can transplant an IP system to its country, it doesn’t mean China can automatically adapt an existing model from a different context in its entirety,” Ms Zhao specifies. “On the domestic scale, China is facing its own internal challenges. Furthermore, globally speaking the IP system itself is challenged by systematic insufficiencies in this new digital era, which also needs to be considered by the Chinese government at the implementation stage of a national IP system.”

The third presentation, held to a group of more than 40 Master’s students of Chinese law, focused more on comparison of academic communication and argumentation methods in China and abroad. Under the title “Globalization and the Internationalization of China IP studies,” Ms Zhao lectured students on the differences in academic writing and argumentation between Chinese and western scholars. “Students with a China focus or a China-centered approach will find it difficult to communicate with international scholars later on, if they don’t pay attention to this aspect now” Ms Zhao says, reflecting on her own experiences. “One of the biggest challenges when I came here was how to build my argumentation,” she says referring to her experience in Finland. “It is important to build a bridge between Chinese and non-Chinese scholars early on, so their methodology and way of writing and argumentation can develop and smoothly transition into the international sphere.”

Speakers and participants of the First International Young Scholars Forum at the Wuhan University of Technology. Photo by Wuhan University of Technology.

Before her arrival to Finland in 2012, Ms Zhao started her research in legal studies in substantive law. “China is currently in a social transformation period, and massive amounts of research is being conducted in this field.” In her research at the University of Helsinki, Ms Zhao’s interests shifted towards enforcement and actual implementation. “I really appreciate the flexibility of doing research in Finland. My supervisor has been very supportive,” Ms Zhao thanks. In the field of enforcement, judicial reform, especially in regard to IP, has been the main focus since. The inspiration to pursue research on a governmental level was partly triggered by an academic project, “Legal Transplant for Innovation and Creativity – A Sino-Finnish Comparative Study on the Governance of Intellectual Property Rights” (TranSIP), which Ms Zhao participated in. In Finland, the project was led by a leading IP scholar in Finland, Prof. Niklas Bruun, and on the Chinese side, one of the most recognized key IP scholars in China, Prof. Li Mingde, from the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.

With new insights into the judicial reform at the governmental level, Ms Zhao is currently finalizing her doctoral monograph on the topic of China’s “catch up” on innovation and IP systems, where she doesn’t only consider enforcement or substantive law, but focuses more on national strategies regarding IP, their implementation by the judicial organ, as well as reactions of the industry to state policies and judicial practices.

Author: Cristina D. Juola