Transcript of H.E. Ambassador CHEN Xu's Press Briefing on WIPO Election
2020-03-03 18:20

(February 26)

I. Opening Remarks by Ambassador CHEN Xu

On March 4-5, WIPO will elect a new Director General. As WIPO is mainly in charge of international cooperation of IP and administration of international patent application, it is natural for China, a world leading patent applicant, to nominate its candidate.

There are currently six candidates, from China, Singapore, Kazakhstan, Ghana, Peru and Columbia respectively, including two women, from China and Kazakhstan.

The Chinese candidate Ms. Wang Binying, currently WIPO'S Deputy Director-General, is highly competent. She has been working in WIPO for nearly 30 years, taken the post of DDG for 10 years. She is familiar with the running of WIPO and enjoys great esteem and respect. Being a determined woman and good communicator, she is able to find solutions by coordinating different concerns of member states. Her unique and rich experience of three decades makes her the strongest competitor for its new Director General. China's nomination meets the expectation of international community for more outstanding female leaders chairing international organizations and promoting gender parity.

It should be a fair and serious competition of IP professionals. Regrettably, the US is turning it into a political game. The US has no candidate of its own, yet tries every means to block Ms. Wang Binying, and even takes this venture at its top diplomatic agenda. US Secretary of State Pompeo lobbies around the world against the Chinese candidate. The White House trade advisor Peter Navatto published in a FT(Financial Times) article that the world shouldn't give China control of WIPO. Foreign Policy also published an article demonizing and smearing China's IP policy. US ambassadors are doing all they can to exert pressure by stressing "Anyone But Chinese".

It is said that the US has gone so far as to warn some medium and small countries not to vote for China, or they will face consequences such as weakened relations with US or losing World Bank and IMF loans. Many WIPO members have expressed their strong resentment for the US' pressure and its approach and called for an election free from political factors.

Any election should be fair and abide by the existing rules. The US always claims that it values international rules, democratic election and fair competition. During election of leaders of international organizations, it emphasizes merit-based, female-first principles. However, when it comes to the Chinese candidature that meets those criteria, the US simply puts aside these standards. This is a sheer expression of double-standard. Such maneuvering runs counter to fair competition and jeopardizes the right of sovereign state and independent choices.

China's bid for the post of heads of international organizations is aimed at promoting international cooperation. It represents China's willingness to support multilateralism and the UN, and to make greater contribution to the international community. The current heads of specialized agencies who are Chinese were all elected by member states through fair competition, representing member states' trust in the Chinese candidature. They act on the will and interests of member states and in an open and fair manner, their remarkable performance are widely recognized by the international community. In the next two years, three of the four Chinese nationals, namely the head of ICAO, UNIDO and ITU will leave office. There is no whatsoever China's control and dominance over international organizations.

China has firmly established the concept that "protecting intellectual property is protecting innovation". Strengthening the protection of intellectual property is not only China's international obligations, but also China's inherent need to implement its innovation-driven development strategy and expand its opening-up. China's Patent and trade mark applications ranked 1st in the world, the Madrid international registration of trademarks applications ranked 3rd in the world. According to the Global Innovation Index 2019 released by WIPO, China ranked 14th. China's outstanding achievements in scientific and technological innovation and intellectual property protection are obvious to all, and it has become a model for innovation and global intellectual property governance. China has become the world's second largest economy, the largest industrial country, and the largest trader of goods. It has contributed more than 30% of the world's economic growth for many years, and has become the main stabilizer and driving force for the world economic growth.

The US attack is obviously irrational and unfair. I hope all parties would take this matter on its own merits, and make decisions based on Ms. Wang's personal calibre, dedication, experience, integrity and policy orientation, rather than from an ideological perspective. Ms. Wang will prove she is the best one to serve the interest of WIPO.

II. Q&A Session

Question:You mentioned fair process in the WIPO election . Some countries do think that the election that took place in FAO was not fair either. Some countries say that countries who voted for the Chinese candidate took pictures in order to show to Beijing of their support. These allegations were circulated and made by a bunch of countries. So what do you have to respond to these allegations?

CHEN Xu: I'm not aware of what you said. It is not our policy to do that. The Chinese candidate won the FAO election at the first round. That represents the will of the majority of countries who participated in the vote. It is not our policy to deliberately or intentionally seek the dominance, at least not in terms of numbers. On one hand, it is an indication of China's willingness to make more contribution. On the other hand, if you look at this matter as a dynamic process, it just happened that we have the right candidates. But as I just said, three of them will in the following two years leave their office. Ms. Wang is a candidate from the system, that's why the nomination is just natural.

Question: Some other countries in particular western countries say China is not the country to be looking after intellectual property. How concerned are you about that, what would you like to see about that?

CHEN Xu:I think I covered your question somewhat in my opening remarks, and also through the fact sheet my colleague circulated, which shares with you the basic policy and practice of China in terms of intellectual property rights. If you look at China's performance, yes indeed we need to catch up with the other parts of the world because it just started with China only over the past decades when China adopted the policy of opening up and reform. And if you look at this matter from a historical or vertical perspective, you will find we are catching up very quickly, including all these domestic legislations and policies.

Question:The allegation is that when foreign companies in particular technology companies come to China, they are forced to partner with Chinese companies, and there is some problem of IP theft by Chinese companies. What do you think of that?

CHEN Xu: I don't think it is the right description of joint ventures between the foreign companies with their Chinese counterpart. All these cooperation is a market-driven process, and it's on voluntary basis. We don't have the policy and practice that any foreign companies have to yield their technology before or during the cooperation. So if you have any specific cases, please let me know.

Question: Do you think WIPO DG election will be another element of conflict zone between China and the US, after trade war and Xinjiang issue?

CHEN Xu: I think you'd better post this question to my American counterpart. As I said, we wish to see this election could be taken on its own merit. Our strategy is quite clear. The Pacific Ocean is vast enough to accommodate more players, China, USA, Japan and many others, so we are ready to conduct meaningful dialogue, on an equal footing and with mutual respect. We hope others could adopt the similar approach, rather than to observe or evaluate China's performance always from a ideological or geopolitical perspective.

Question: There are quite a few heads of international organizations that are Chinese, while some country has none. What do you think of that?

CHEN Xu: Yes we do respect the view of others, respect other candidate nominated by other countries. It's not our strategy to intentionally seek the dominance in terms of number. It's a natural process, if we follow the same logic, and if we look at the United Nations overall structure, and the exact number, roughly the D2 and above, you'll find the US has 45 or 44, China only 10. I don't know Russia, UK or France, maybe even less. So if you follow the same logic, there is no need to appoint any US citizens for D2 above, because they occupied such a big portion already. The US turned their back to the the multilateral cooperation, withdrew from many international organizations, and they are the largest arrear-holders of the UN budget, so how can US point fingers at others. So again, I don't think we are deliberately seeking the dominance in terms of number. They just happened like that.

Question:You explained that China is the 2nd largest economy and 1st trader of goods. There are discussions on developing country status in WTO. Does China remain to be a developing country, or no longer a developing country?

CHEN Xu: I follow very closely the deliberations in the World Trade Organization. China remains a developing country. Our GDP is No.2 in the world, but per capital GDP is not, and our development is unbalanced, and we have 1.4 billion people, more than 500 million are farmers, and among which, more than 200 million left their land, and move eastwards to big cities, to find what they believe a better life. So all these unbalanced development indicate that we remain to be a developing country in many years to come. It's not that we try to deny our development, it's like we are still a high school student, the size is quite impressive, but in the mean time the body massive index is something else.

Question: There is some smearing campaign on China, do you think there is bias against China?

CHEN Xu: That is self-explanatory. Just read carefully the article published in FT, just follow the statement by Secretary of State Pompeo and \Vice President Pence. It gives me the impression that wherever they go, no matter the agenda or the theme of the conference, there are always in the statements a large paragraph attacking China. I remember that in 2018 in the General Assembly, when I was a member of Chinese delegation, in the Security Council, the theme is arms control and disarmament. But in the national statement by US, large paragraphs attacking China. It had nothing to do with the theme, so it gives the impression that they are sparing no effort to demonize China. I don't know what kind of mentality or mindset it is. So apparently there is something wrong with US's perception of China, as well as it's perception of the world.