Eight-year old Li Zhenni, a third-grader at Jihong Primary School in Harbin, capital of northeast China’s Heilongjiang Province, flew 10,000 kilometers from home to the Geneva headquarters of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), to tell delegates from its 180 member states what intellectual property rights mean to her.
Three and a half years ago. Zhenni, together with 139 other kindergarten and primary school children, depicted their visions of science and human development with crayons on a 100-meter scroll of cloth to mark the world’s first International Intellectual Property Day.
The Heilongjiang Provincial Bureau for Intellectual Property Rights organized the activity as part of a campaign to promote creativity among children and foster their awareness of intellectual property rights, according to Zhang Xiaowei, the bureau’s director.
The pictures were later compiled into an album and presented to the Geneva-based WIPO, which is displaying them in an exhibition entitled “Creativity by Children: A Chinese Experience,” during the 40th assembly of its member states from September 27 through October 5.
The WIPO invited five of the young artists, aged between 8 and 11, to Geneva to highlight the exhibition on the first day of the conference.
“I totally agree with your ideas that IPR awareness building should start from the children,” said Bernard Kessedjian, chairman of the WIPO conference. “Children will be the inventors and creators of the future.”
“And the show itself illustrates the Chinese government’s initiative in pushing forward IPR protection,” he said.
Ron Marchant, chief executive and comptroller-general of the UK Patent Office, said that the Chinese practice of building IPR awareness among the young would be crucial to the country’s development.
“That is actually what we are trying to do in the UK,” Marchant said.
Sha Zukang, Chinese ambassador to the UN in Geneva and head of the Chinese delegation to the WIPO conference, said a sound IPR protection mechanism is of vital importance to the nation’s creativity and development.
“The nation’s hope lies in the younger generation,” said Sha. “The participation of the youngsters will help imbue a strong IPR awareness in their minds, which serves as the most effective way of ensuring a sound environment for intellectual creation.”
When asked to define what intellectual property was, the eight-year-old Zhenni replied without hesitation that it represented an “intangible asset” enshrined to “safeguard the interests of mental creation.”
Chang Cheng, a senior program officer of WIPO, said, “When the children know they should not infringe on other people’s rights, and work to protect their own creation from being violated, a sound environment is well in place to facilitate creation, innovation and invention, the most powerful wheels that carry the economy forward.”
(China Daily September 29, 2004)