China slams US over 'attack' on its candidate to UN body

China's ambassador in Geneva ambassador Chen Xu makes a media statement criticising the U.S. for attacking China's candidate to head a United Nations agency that tracks intellectual property in the digital age, in Geneva, Switzerland, Wednesday Feb. 26, 2020.  The showdown over leadership of the World Intellectual Property Organization that monitors patents, trademarks and industrial design, amounts to the latest face-off between the United States and China. (AP Photo)
China's ambassador in Geneva ambassador Chen Xu makes a media statement criticising the U.S. for attacking China's candidate to head a United Nations agency that tracks intellectual property in the digital age, in Geneva, Switzerland, Wednesday Feb. 26, 2020. The showdown over leadership of the World Intellectual Property Organization that monitors patents, trademarks and industrial design, amounts to the latest face-off between the United States and China. (AP Photo) (AP)

GENEVA – A Chinese ambassador on Wednesday ripped into the U.S. for an “attack” on China's candidate to head a United Nations agency that monitors and tracks intellectual property like patents, trademarks and industrial designs — a lucrative and crucial part of the growing digital age.

The showdown over the leadership of the World Intellectual Property Organization amounts to the latest face-off between the United States and China.

The comments by Chen Xu, China's ambassador in Geneva, laid bare rising tensions over an alleged U.S. campaign to prevent veteran WIPO official Weng Binyang from becoming director-general of the money-making agency that counts 192 member states.

"The United States is turning this election into a political game. The United States has no candidate of its own, yet it tries every means to block Ms. Weng Binyang and even takes this venture at its top diplomatic agenda," Chen told reporters at a news conference on the issue at the U.N.'s Geneva compound.

“It is sad that the United States has gone so far as to warn some of the medium and small countries not to vote for China, or they will face consequences such as weakened relations with the United States or losing the World Bank and IMF loans,” Chen added.

“The United States attack on China's candidature, China's contribution, in the areas of IPR is not only unfair, it's irrational,” he said, referring to intellectual property rights.

A WIPO “coordination committee” is set to select its nominee for director-general at a closed-door vote March 4-5, before the agency's general assembly makes the final decision in May. The assembly has never rejected a coordination committee nominee since WIPO was created in 1967.

Weng is one of six remaining candidates out of 10 who originally announced plans to replace Director-General Francis Gurry of Australia. Candidates from Colombia, Ghana, Kazakhstan, Peru and Singapore are also in the race.