By Adedapo Adesanya
Mr Daren Tang of Singapore has been chosen to lead the Geneva-based World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO).
Mr Tang defeated his closest rival, Ms Wang Binying from China, in the hotly contested closed-door vote by state members of WIPO to become the new WIPO director general.
In a second and final round of voting by the 83 members of WIPO’s committee, which included Nigeria, Mr Tang garnered 55 votes while Ms Wang managed only 28.
This win halts China’s bid for a fifth top United Nations post, which has stirred fierce rivalry between the country and United States on matters concerning global rules for patents and intellectual property.
According to a press release sighted by Business Post, the WIPO General Assembly will now meet on May 7-8 to formally approve the nomination by its coordination committee.
The voting after the first round came down to both parties after other candidates were either eliminated or withdrew from the race.
“Kazakhstan’s candidate withdrew her candidacy ahead of the first round of voting. Following the first round, the candidate with the least votes, from Peru, was eliminated.
“Two other candidates – from Colombia and Ghana – withdrew their candidatures ahead of the second round of voting.” the press release read.
The contest had intensified in recent weeks as the Chinese government accused the United States and its allies for starting a campaign to attack its country.
Intellectual property has been at the centre of a trade war between China and the United States. The US and other Western countries and Japan backed Mr Tang to clinch the position.
The vote had been viewed as a challenge to China’s attempt to head another UN agency and influence global institutions.
Chinese nationals already lead four out of the 15 biggest UN agencies, more than any other member state: The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), the Industrial Development Organization and the International Telecommunications Union (ITU).
Mr Tang currently holds the post of Chief Executive of the Intellectual Property Office of Singapore and following his validation at the May meeting, he will head the WIPO institution for six years from the beginning of October. He will also become the first Singaporean to head a UN agency.
His term begins after the tenure of the current Director General, Mr Francis Gurry of Australia, ends on September 30, 2020.
Under outgoing Director-General, WIPO has witnessed a huge rise in patent filings and has begun talks on whether artificial intelligence, or machines, can be inventors.
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