This year in March, the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) will be electing a new director-general for a term of six years. A leading candidate for the same is from China, and China has frequently drawn criticism for permitting counterfeiting along with illegal expropriation of the Intellectual Property (IP).
Formed and established in 1967, WIPO is the UN’s specialized agency that is responsible for promoting Intellectual Property Protection, helping individuals and businesses in obtaining Intellectual Property Rights (IPRs), and increasing accessibility to IP information. WIPO efficiently regulates systems managing commercially sensitive information and Patent Applications from more than 200 jurisdictions and patent information collections. In this scenario, the US believes that giving control of WIPO to a Chinese representative would, without any second thoughts, be a terrible mistake. The Chinese economy is responsible for 85% of the counterfeits seized by US border officials; furthermore, the Chinese IP theft and piracy costs the American economy between $200 billion to $600 billion every year. Also, in the present fast-paced world, Chinese counterfeits have severely damaged the handmade traditional textile industries in Ghana, Nigeria, Guinea, and Ivory Coast. The US also believes that China would have been in a position to provide a leader for WIPO if it matched the western standards for IP protection and enforcement.
China’s plan to lead WIPO is indeed an integral part of its broader strategy corresponding to gaining full control over the 15 specialized agencies of the UN. Moreover, China already leads four of such agencies, and on the other hand, no other nation leads more than one. In 2021, the top spots of five UN specialized agencies will be up for elections as well, including the International Fund for Agricultural Development, International Labour Organization, the UN Industrial Development Organization, UNESCO, and World Tourism Organization. Talking about the selection processes, China is most likely to seek and receive immense support from nations, where it has become a prime donor or source of aide. As per various reports and surveys conducted, the African countries frequently vote for China at the UN.