About 2000 years have elapsed since paper was first invented in the country that bears the ancient name of the Middle Kingdom. Other groundbreaking inventions that can be attributed to this region include printing, gunpowder and the compass, all developed in medieval times. These are the four great inventions that are often cited when emphasizing China's leading role in science and technology in ancient times (Needham, 1981). However, the turbulent periods after the imperial dynasties and during the Mao era have adversely affected the climate of innovation in the People's Republic of China (PRC). During the course of the Cultural Revolution, the basis for creative work was considerably narrowed and the educational system and research at universities had to undergo radical changes. Not until the late 1970s, when Deng Xiaoping recognized the importance of advanced technology for the industrial development and economic welfare of his country, did China open its borders to economic exchange with foreign countries (Lardy, 1992). Today, China exhibits significant economic growth rates and ranks in the top three nations, below only the United States (US) and Japan, in terms of economic performance. Over the years, the PRC has established relations with all major economies and since its accession to the World Trade Organization (WTO) in 2001 it has taken a leading role in the global economy. However, in addition to its distinct cultural roots, decades of communist ideology have left gaps between the PRC and many Western countries in terms of its economic, legal and political development and orientation. Thus, the promotion of technological progress and the protection of intellectual property have emerged as controversial topics in contemporary China.


Intellectual Property World Trade Organization European Patent Office Patent Invention Patent Cooperation Treaty 
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© Gabler Verlag | Springer Fachmedien Wiesbaden GmbH 2010

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  • Johannes Liegsalz

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