29! That is the number of national GI (geographical indication) protection demonstration areas (GI areas) to be set up in the next three years, according to a 2022 list announced in October by the China National Intellectual Property Administration (CNIPA).
In 2010, China commenced the construction of the national GI (appellations of origin) areas nationwide. In 2018, pursuant to a relevant reform plan of the State Council, the restructured CNIPA inherited all the GI-related missions including the aforementioned construction.
Construction of the GI areas is an effective tool for China to further refine its GI protection system and control the quality of GIs. In February 2021, CNIPA enacted the Measures on Administration of the Construction of the Geographical Indication Protection Demonstration Areas (Trial), offering clear guidance to the construction. In October 2021, in the 14th Five-Year National Plan for IP Protection and Application, the State Council mandated the completion of 100 GI areas during the 14th five-year period.
"As of now, China has set up 103 GI areas," a CNIPA principal in charge of the IP protection department introduces that such construction may not only ensure quality control of GI products and give them a competitive edge on the market, but also bring the entire supply chain on board, both upstream and downstream sectors, and boost the economy of relevant regions.
In an effort to secure sustainable construction of the GI areas, in October 2022, CNIPA released the Notice on Identifying the 2022 List of the Construction of the Geographical Indication Protection Demonstration Areas, demanding provincial IP administrations to instruct the task executors to do the work properly. The specific requirements include strict GI protection, principles of high standard construction, high level protection, high quality development, innovative approach, enactment of accompanying policies, offering of dedicated resources to solidifying resources, improving operational protocols, heightening protection, strengthening publicity on protection, bolstering cooperation and win-win.
"The 29 areas of this year are diverse in product types, reputable and profitable," a CNIPA principal elaborates that the GI products from the 29 areas cover agricultural, forest products, traditional Chinese medicine materials as well as food and handicrafts. They are both diverse in product types and famous. Zhenjiang Vinegar, Xinyang Maojian Tea, Liuzhou Luosifen (river snails rice noodles) are all popular brands in China and even worldwide.
When the GI power directs inward, it assists rural revitalization. When it points outward, it helps exploring markets overseas. The 29 areas do not only represent GI products vital for rural revitalization, but products mutually recognized for protection under the China-EU GI protection and cooperation agreement.
"The interest of this year's area construction is in rural revitalization. The 29 areas span 15 middle and western provinces, hosting three national key rural revitalization go-to counties. Their GI products boast high economic value. Inside these areas, 874 companies are using GI special symbols, generating combined annual earnings of 58.94 billion yuan. Wine in Helan Mountain East Region and Huanggang Wickerwork are among the high value-added products," the principal adds.
Wine in Helan Mountain East Region is both a GI product and a registered GI certification mark. "The selection into the GI area list is a breakthrough for the brand development of Wine in Helan Mountain East Region, which will give a big push for further ramping up its brand value and market impact," an official of the Ningxia (Hui Autonomous Region) Administration for Market Regulation (Intellectual Property Administration) claims that Ningxia will take advantage of the area construction, follow the principles of high standard construction, high level protection, high quality development, intensify protection and management of Wine in Helan Mountain East Region, steer the development of the wine to the high-end and international path.
The construction of GI areas is under way to graduate once mere local specialties to profitable industries: in Ningxia, the 'purple industry' realized by Wine in Helan Mountain East Region has given a sense of wellbeing to the western population; in Guangxi, the 'influencer industry' fed by Liuzhou Luosifen has unlocked the code to wealth for the southern border province. Piloted by these demonstration areas, more and more villages nationwide are invoking the GI toolkit to become affluent, painting an infinite picture of rural revitalization.