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Law, Development and Innovation in China


Admission requirements

This course is suitable for 2nd and 3rd year students in Law, Social Sciences (anthropology, sociology of development, public administration), and Humanities (history, area studies, arts). Non-Law students should be willing to familiarise themselves with the outlines of law, whereas law students should be willing to engage in subjects beyond the rules of black letter law. For this course a sufficient command of English (IELTS 6.5 or higher) is required. In agreement with the Leiden Institute for Area Studies, this course can be taken as a dissertation course by 3rd year students in the China Studies programme.


Is China capable of innovation? This question is a controversial one, and one often answered with doubtful responses. Nevertheless, as China’s economic development progresses, innovation has become a central concern of policymakers in Beijing, and law has been the most central tool by which this innovation is stimulated. Consequently, a range of legislative and regulatory measures is now in place, aimed at enhancing China’s capability for developing and marketizing new technologies. Most important among these is a comprehensive structure of intellectual property law. Moreover, legislative reform efforts have been made in various supporting fields, including investment, competition and international trade law. Nevertheless, the pursuits of innovation sometimes conflicts with other interests of the Party-State, in particular the maintenance of information control, manifested through a complex web of regulation around technology and content.
This course has two aims. First, it will provide students with a toolkit to understand the relationship between law, development and innovation from a theoretical perspective. Second, it will provide a comprehensive introduction to China’s innovation law and policy, which will act as a case study of how law interacts with a rapidly evolving economic environment.

Course objectives

Objectives of the course

  • Introduce students to theories concerning the interaction between law, development and innovation

  • Introduce students to the institutional environment of China’s particular economic government structure

  • Review the substantive legal frameworks of Chinese intellectual property law, investment law, competition law, technology law and corporate law that touch upon questions of innovation.

  • Enable students to research case studies inquiring into the effect of legal frameworks on development and innovation outcomes.

Achievement levels
When completing the course, students will have obtained the following qualifications:

  • A sound knowledge of the organizational and substantive elements of China’s innovation policy and the corresponding legal frameworks.

  • A basic insight into the interaction of law, development and innovation

  • The ability to evaluate particular case studies in the light of the above two points

  • The ability to critically reflect on current developments in China’s economic governance

  • The ability to effectively present the legal questions concerning a specific case to a broader audience, and thereby contribute to the public debate.


The timetable of this course can be found on the Chinastudies website

Mode of instruction

Number of lectures: 9

  • Introduction to theories of law, innovation and development

  • China’s economic law and policymaking structure

  • Intellectual property rights I: Patents and trade secrets

  • Intellectual property rights II: Copyright

  • Intellectual property rights III: Trademarks

  • Innovation and investment law

  • Technology regulation

  • Competition

  • Innovation and international trade

Number of (2 hour) seminars: 3
At the seminars, students will present case studies on particular questions in law and innovation.

A syllabus of required and suggested literature will be provided. Students will be required to have read required literature before every lecture. Student groups will be required to prepare and present relevant case studies in class.

Assessment method

Examination form(s)
Presentation: 30%
Final exam: 70%

If the overall grade is lower than 5,5 the student can do a retake of the exam. If a student has not passed the course by the end of the academic year, the scores on the assignments, the presentation and the (re-)exam are no longer valid.

Areas to be tested within the exam
The examination syllabus consists of the required reading (literature) for the course, the course information guide and the subjects taught in the lectures, the seminars and all other instructions which are part of the course.


More information on this course is offered in Blackboard.

Reading list

Obligatory course materials
Reader, available via Blackboard


Students have to register for courses and exams through uSis.

Contact information

Coordinator: Dr. Rogier Creemers
Telephone number: +31 (0)71 527 6133