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China recently adopted new guidelines to strengthen protection of property rights.After all, given that the laws and regulations governing business in China are highly complex and, at times, even contradictory, it has been difficult for Chinese entrepreneurs not to violate some rule or another.The new guidelines address this by calling for forgiveness of "original sins" – irregular or illegal activities or tax evasion by private entrepreneurs in their firms' early days. My own research, carried out with Zhuan Xie and Xiaobo Zhang, shows that Chinese firms – especially in the private sector – have lately accelerated innovation, and are being awarded an increasing number of patents at home and abroad. Unsurprisingly, they have joined multinational firms and foreign trade negotiators in demanding better intellectual property protections. But the new guidelines are not sufficient to guarantee such an outcome. For the sake of the entire global economy, one hopes that China gets it right.
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