China joins global health governance: New player, more medicines, and new rules?

Pak K. Lee*, Lai Ha Chan

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


In the wake of China’s rapid ascendancy, are there any new rules made by the country in global health governance? This article examines China’s emerging role in the Agreement on Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights and finds that China adopts a pro–status quo stance on patented medicines. Aspiring to develop its own pharmaceutical sector to be capable to produce patented medicines on a par with the West, it has little appetite for using the prevailing rules or making new rules that are to the liking of the developing world. Undoubtedly, China is a new player in global health governance but has yet to have agenda-setting intent and capacity. This article argues that China’s behavior and preferences can be explained by its dualistic national identities, the dominant position of realism in both the study of international relations and policy circles, and an underdevelopment of epistemic community in global health governance in the country.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)297-323
Number of pages27
JournalGlobal Governance
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • China
  • Global health governance
  • National identity
  • Realism
  • TRIPS agreement


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