Paul French

The lack of an independent legal system is holding back China’s innovative power; protecting the rights of entrepreneurs and innovators is key, business analyst Paul French tells in NPR. And then there is social welfare, health care pensions and a few other things.

“If you’re going to innovate, if you’re going to be entrepreneurial, if you’re going to create and invent things, you need a legal system that can protect your invention,” says Paul French, who works for the Shanghai consulting firm Access Asia and has lived in China for nearly 20 years.

“The government should take the lead on that, and an independent legal system needs to be able to do that, and to respect the rights of entrepreneurs and innovators,” he says. “And at the moment, that is simply not the case here.”

French says that intellectual property rights is one of many issues that need to be dealt with if China is going to move up to the next level.

“The big picture would be the environment; the big picture would be social welfare — health care and pensions,” he says. “Then it would be education, and the ability for students and academics to challenge the consensus, to challenge the official version of things.”

Continuing down his list of reforms needed in China, French says, “We need to have freedom of the press, so that confidence in the stock market can be maintained. We’re going to need better ethical and corporate governance, and that’s going to mean a lot more transparency, both from government and from corporations.”

Any one of those issues on its own would be hard enough to reform; the fact that China needs to address all of them is a monumental and risky task. Modern Chinese society is simply becoming too complex to be contained within the old political and social framework.

More in NPR

Paul French is a speaker at the China Speakers Bureau. When you need him at your meeting and conference, do get in touch.



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