China semester events tackle piracy, business

Dr. Andrew Mertha - Washington University

Dr. Andrew Mertha – Washington University

Patricia Robinson

Piracy and business are the watchwords for this week’s China semester activities beginning today in Webster Hall Auditorium.

Dr. Andrew Mertha, assistant professor of political science at Washington University in St. Louis, will make two presentations dealing with those topics.

The first, “The Politics of Piracy: Intellectual Property in Contemporary China” is slated for 9 a.m. today.

Mertha said it will not be a simple primer on Chinese laws.

“Focusing on China laws and regulations is not terribly useful because they are rarely enforced,” he said. “Rather, I will be looking at how local politics affects the production and sales of counterfeit and pirated goods and how foreign firms can and have been making a difference by working with local Chinese governments.”

The presentation is free and open to the public.

One of the principal assumptions about Sino-U.S. trade negotiations is that once the U.S. and China come to an agreement, the degree to which implementation will be successful is a function of Beijing’s will. Mertha argues that this assumption is fundamentally flawed, that policy implementation is shaped by the actual contours of particular bureaucracies, quite independent of Beijing’s preferences. He uses the case of intellectual property to illustrate these claims.

The second presentation, “Six Things That Every Businessperson Should Know About China,” will take place at 11 a.m. today in Cornell Auditorium in Plaster Hall.

Mertha said the presentation will be more entertaining than the advance literature might indicate.

“The six lessons are pretty much a template by which to understand what goes on in local Chinese politics for anybody seeking to engage or relying upon Chinese government assistance,” he said.

“This may appeal to businesspeople, but it would be useful to anybody and everybody — study abroad students, students of Chinese politics, economics and business and even those simply trying to understand what is really going on in China.”

This presentation is also free and open to all.

Mertha has a B.A. and a Ph.D. from the University of Michigan and is the author of two books: Water Warriors: Political Pluralization in China’s Hydropower Policy (estimated publication date, March 2008) and The Politics of Piracy: Intellectual Property in Contemporary China.

He has been a visiting scholar at Beijing Uni-versity’s Research Center for Contemporary China and at Stanford’s Asia/Pacific Research Center.