Four bipartisan lawmakers on Monday urged President Trump to oppose China’s bid to lead the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) at the United Nations, alleging that China’s own infractions could threaten intellectual property rights and the U.S. economy.
The Chinese Communist Party last month nominated a candidate to head the WIPO, which sets international standards for copyrights and patents, a move seen as a bid to shape the body.
“Given China’s persistent violations of intellectual property protections, including through trade secret theft, corporate espionage, and forced transfer of technology, the United States and its allies must stand firmly against such a move,” Sens. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) and Reps. Jimmy Panetta (D-Calif.) and Mike Gallagher (R-Wis.) wrote in Monday’s letter to Trump.
“We cannot let a regime, which continues to blatantly undermine the rules-based system by failing to ensure open markets or respect for intellectual property rights, ascend as the leader of global intellectual property policy.”
The lawmakers asked Trump to both oppose the Chinese nominee and “take the necessary diplomatic steps to ensure our allies and partners do the same before the Director General election next spring.”
They noted that Trump himself has accused China of intellectual property theft and cited the U.S. trade representative declaring China a “precarious and uncertain environment” for American intellectual property owners.
The letter adds that Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei was the top filer of international patent applications to the WIPO last year. Huawei was added to a blacklist by the Trump administration earlier this year over national security concerns related to the company’s close ties to the Chinese Communist Party.
The request for Trump to oppose China’s pick to head the WIPO comes a week after the two parties announced that they had reached a “phase one” trade deal after months of escalating tariffs.
U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said last week that as part of the negotiations the U.S. extracted concessions on intellectual property.
It is not immediately clear what those concessions will look like in action.