China’s commitment to Intellectual Property has remained constant with its continued rapid growth of patent applications, in correspondence with the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO). China currently stands as second in the world with 48,882 applications under the WIPO’s Patent Cooperation Treaty, according to WIPO data. With this correspondence, China has expanded its interest in IP to the now 115 countries of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), China’s plan to build land and maritime trade routes across Europe and Asia to boost the global economy by 2025. BRI is designed to allow its member countries access to a variety of exports and raw materials. However, the “debt-financed” funding provided mostly by China, may cause major setbacks on building infrastructure and coordinating trade among nations.
The plan concerning IP is to foster communication and cooperation of IP resources in order to ensure global growth. This new interest has allowed several representatives of BRI countries to meet to discuss administration, structure, and flow of IP information in the past three years. Most recently in 2018 a number of BRI countries agreed to “centralize the management of patents, appearance designs, trademarks, geographical indications, and layout designs of integrated circuit.” In Thailand, there is expected to be a high-speed train constructed that would travel along the 600 kilometers between Bangkok and Nong Khai province. This is scheduled to operate in 2023 however, disagreements among officials have caused significant delays.
The coordination that BRI demands between 115 countries along with the project itself summing up to 1.3 billion USD, causes suspicion to arise regarding the deadline. The Belt and Road Initiative was launched by Xi Jinping in 2013, which means that the project should be nearly 50% completed, with the 2025 deadline. A lack of funding has caused plans to be delayed, which could leave several construction sites without workers and representatives caught in negotiation.
However, BRI could also gather funding from its newest member countries and push the schedule back on track or even ahead of the 2025 deadline. The initially planned Belt and Road Initiative would include both a land and a sea route connecting China and its Asian partners to Europe, as well as providing its developing countries with opportunities for infrastructure, investment, and intellectual property.