China, the TRIPS Waiver and the Global Pandemic Response
INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY, COVID-19, AND THE NEXT PANDEMIC: DIAGNOSING PROBLEMS, DEVELOPING CURES, Madhavi Sunder and Sun Haochen, eds., Cambridge University Press, 2022, Forthcoming
13 Pages Posted: 1 Dec 2021 Last revised: 23 Mar 2022
Date Written: December 1, 2021
In October 2020, India and South Africa submitted an unprecedented proposal to the Council for Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights of the World Trade Organization. The proposal was subsequently revised in May 2021. Although China is neither a proponent nor cosponsor of this proposal, it has provided considerable support to the ongoing effort to adopt a COVID-19 TRIPS waiver at the WTO.
To document China's role in the global pandemic response, this chapter closely examines its position in the waiver debate. It begins by discussing how the country's changing pharmaceutical landscape and growing ambition to become an intellectual property power have paved the way for its middle-of-the-road position. The chapter then identifies two additional, complementary reasons behind this position: international politics and pandemic diplomacy. Drawing lessons from the ongoing debate at the WTO, the chapter concludes by offering insights into the roles China can or will play in future international policy debates at the intersection of intellectual property and public health.
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