The Unites States of America (USA) have highlighted the risk of allowing a Chinese national to lead the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO). The WIPO will soon elect a new director general for a six-year term. The WIPO was formed in 1967 in order to help businesses and individuals to acquire intellectual property (IP) rights. It encourages IP protection and improves access to IP information.
A leading contender for the job is from China, a country which has been criticised for its trade in counterfeit goods. 85% of counterfeit goods seized by USA border agents originate from China. The USA economy losses between $225 billion and $600 billion annually from Chinese IP theft. IP infringements also cost Europe billions every year. Chinese counterfeit products damage many businesses in the western world.
The WIPO is one of fifteen United Nations (UN) specialised agencies. Chinese nationals currently lead four of these agencies whilst no other country leads more than one. Seven of the agencies have a Chinese national in the second in command position. America believes that China has a wider strategy to control the fifteen UN organisations. During the selection process China often receives support from countries that have received aid from China. They have on occasion offered to cancel debts from some nations ahead of elections and three Chinese nationals have been convicted of bribing a UN official. Once in a position of power Chinese officials then direct the UN agenda to benefit its own interests.
The US believes that until China is serious about protecting IP rights by matching western standards, it should not be able to lead the WIPO.
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Written by Samuel Killoran who is a Law Student at Solent University.