US embassy cable - 06HONGKONG925

NEW COMMERCE SECRETARY ON IPR, PORT SECURITY, AND BROADCASTING ISSUES

Identifier: 06HONGKONG925
Wikileaks: View 06HONGKONG925 at Wikileaks.org
Origin: Consulate Hong Kong
Created: 2006-03-07 01:50:00
Classification: CONFIDENTIAL
Tags: PGOV KIPR ETRD ECON INRB HK
Redacted: This cable was not redacted by Wikileaks.
VZCZCXRO0019
PP RUEHCN
DE RUEHHK #0925/01 0660150
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 070150Z MAR 06
FM AMCONSUL HONG KONG
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 5316
INFO RUEHOO/CHINA POSTS COLLECTIVE
RUCPDOC/USDOC WASHDC
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 HONG KONG 000925 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SIPDIS 
 
STATE FOR EAP/CM AND EB/IPC 
STATE PASS USTR 
USDOC FOR 4420 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 03/07/2031 
TAGS: PGOV, KIPR, ETRD, ECON, INRB, HK 
SUBJECT: NEW COMMERCE SECRETARY ON IPR, PORT SECURITY, AND 
BROADCASTING ISSUES 
 
REF: HONG KONG 715 
 
Classified By: Consul General James B. Cunningham; Reasons: 1.4 (b/d) 
 
SUMMARY 
------- 
 
1. (C) On March 3, Hong Kong's new Secretary for Commerce, 
Industry, and Technology (SCIT), Joseph Wong, assured the 
Consul General (CG) that: Hong Kong would aim to remain among 
the "top layer" of economies with regard to the protection of 
intellectual property rights (IPR); that Hong Kong values 
port security and welcomes the opportunity to consider 
radiological screening options put forward by the U.S.; and 
that current activities to review public broadcasting involve 
"no hidden agenda" that would impact upon freedom of speech. 
END SUMMARY 
 
MEETING DETAILS 
--------------- 
 
2. (C) On March 3, SCIT Wong, who assumed his position on 
January 24, met with the CG.  Wong was accompanied by 
Administrative Assistant Maurice Loo Kam-wah.  The CG was 
joined by the Deputy Principal Officer, the 
Economic-Political Section Chief, and an economic officer 
(notetaker). 
 
COLLABORATIVE RELATIONSHIP 
-------------------------- 
 
3. (C) The CG noted recent areas of collaboration between 
Hong Kong and the U.S. that fall under Wong's jurisdiction. 
He observed that Hong Kong's December 2005 hosting of the 
Sixth World Trade Organization Ministerial Conference (MC6) 
went smoothly and asked that Hong Kong remain involved in 
concluding the Doha Round while doing what it can to 
encourage active participation by the mainland in this 
process.  The CG referenced the history of bilateral 
cooperation between Hong Kong and the U.S. on export control 
issues, noting bilateral talks scheduled for this May.  He 
also referred to the Memorandum of Understanding concluded 
between Hong Kong and the U.S. in August 2005 that enables 
bilateral cooperation to ensure the integrity of textile 
transshipments. 
 
WTO VIEWS 
--------- 
 
4. (C) Wong underscored the importance of multilateral trade 
arrangements for maintaining the prosperity of economies like 
Hong Kong that are focused on foreign trade.  He suggested 
that once Doha is concluded, the WTO should examine ways to 
make itself more effective, since it presently takes 7-10 
years to complete a negotiation round. Noting that the U.S. 
and Hong Kong do not always see eye-to-eye on issues such as 
anti-dumping, Wong emphasized that it is important to improve 
the WTO's rules so as to ensure that market access agreements 
reached are not frustrated by implementing procedures. 
 
INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY RIGHTS 
---------------------------- 
 
5. (C) The CG mentioned Hong Kong's strong record for IPR 
protection, adding that we intend to focus in particular over 
the next year on amendments to the Copyright Law as well as 
on maintaining the integrity of the local market for 
pharmaceuticals.  He noted the importance to industry of the 
Copyright Law amendments in light of high rates of unlicensed 
and pirated software use in Hong Kong.  He pointed to 
sentiment among industry groups to have Hong Kong cited for 
"special mention" under USTR's 301 process, adding that we 
want to work with Hong Kong to resolve the issues 
underpinning these concerns.  On pharmaceuticals, the CG said 
that the U.S. would like to see patent linkage, i.e., a 
process of certification from manufacturers of generic drugs 
that they are not imposing upon existing rights-holders when 
registering those drugs.  The CG also mentioned reports of 
increasing volumes of counterfeit pharmaceuticals in the 
local market, underscoring the need to ensure the integrity 
of the drug supply. 
 
6. (C) Wong commented that Hong Kong's IPR record is both a 
key element of the city remaining a center for international 
trade as well as a source of distinction from the mainland. 
There is a high degree of confidence in purchases made here 
relative to the PRC.  Hong Kong needs its good status to 
 
HONG KONG 00000925  002 OF 002 
 
 
continue attracting foreign businesses and investors.  IPR 
protection, however, can be emotive.  IP owners want more 
payments, while IP users and consumer rights groups resist. 
Wong's impression is that the scope of IPR protection in Hong 
Kong is expanding.  For example, there are now criminal 
offenses for printed matter violations.  Wong admitted, 
however, that some proposed amendments to the Copyright Law 
reflect the interests of consumers, small- and medium-sized 
enterprises, and educators, and the HKG must take this into 
account.  Consequently, there is a need for certain 
exemptions and safe harbor provisions.  The HKG will package 
its proposed Copyright Law amendments for the legislature 
(Legco) within the next two months.  Wong predicted 
tremendous debate, with many interest groups giving input. 
(Note: For details on concerns about the Copyright Law 
amendments, see our 301 submission (reftel).  End Note.) 
 
7. (C) Wong welcomes further discussion and consultation if 
particular provisions in the proposed amendments are of 
concern.  He also asked for more information on how the U.S. 
handles these issues.  In particular, Wong wants to know if 
what the HKG proposes is along the lines of other economies 
that are in the "top layer" of IPR protection.  (Note: We 
will forward the proposed amendments to EAP/CM and USTR when 
they are put forward.  End Note.)  Wong added that Hong Kong 
Customs is doing very well in enforcing IPR protections and 
has very good relations with its U.S. counterparts. 
Meanwhile, the HKG is challenged on the regulatory side as it 
chases down advances in online piracy, an issue that requires 
further collaboration among affected economies, in Wong's 
view. 
 
PORT SECURITY 
------------- 
 
8. (C) The CG noted Hong Kong's success as a partner since 
2003 in the Container Security Initiative.  He encouraged 
Hong Kong to build upon this by extending our collaboration 
to radiological screening.  He pointed to DOE's Megaports 
initiative, and noted that a separate screening process  is 
being demonstrated at the Hong Kong port by a private U.S. 
company.  The CG said he hopes we can take a radiological 
screening option forward in the coming months.  Wong 
responded that as a general matter, Hong Kong believes in the 
importance of improving security all around.  The HKG 
welcomes the opportunity to review the radiological screening 
options and will proceed with assessing their implications. 
 
PUBLIC BROADCASTING 
------------------- 
 
9. (C) Wong said there is "no hidden agenda" in an ongoing 
review of public service broadcasting.  The goal is for 
experts to look at overseas models -- including those found 
in the U.S., UK, Canada, and Australia -- to assess how best 
to deliver what the community wants and needs from public 
broadcasting.  Wong said this is not about freedom of speech, 
which is in the Basic Law and is sacrosanct.  Nor is it about 
the editorial independence of Radio Television Hong Kong 
(RTHK), which is enshrined in RTHK's existing framework 
agreement. 
 
BIOGRAPHY 
--------- 
 
10. (U) The following is derived from public HKG sources: 
Joseph Wong Wing-ping was appointed on January 24 to be Hong 
Kong's Secretary for Commerce, Industry, and Technology. 
Aged 57, Wong graduated from the University of Hong Kong in 
1969.  He joined the Administrative Service in 1973 and has 
since served in a wide range of government posts.  Senior 
positions held by Mr. Wong include assistant and later Deputy 
Director of Trade from 1984 to 1987; Deputy Secretary for the 
Civil Service from 1988 to 1989; Deputy Secretary for Trade 
and Industry from 1989 to 1991; Hong Kong's Permanent 
Representative to GATT (now the World Trade Organization) 
from 1991 to 1994; and Director of Home Affairs from 1994 to 
1995.  He became Secretary for Education and Manpower in 
1995.  He took up the post of Secretary for the Civil Service 
in August 2000. 
Cunningham 

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