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ITU Plenipotentiary Conference elects China’s Houlin Zhao as next Secretary-General

Busan, 23 October 2014ITU’s 19th Plenipotentiary Conference roundly endorsed Houlin Zhao of China as its next Secretary-General. Zhao will take office on 1 January 2015 for a term of four years, with the possibility of re-election for one additional four-year term.

ITU #Plenipot14 Conference, China’s Houlin Zhao ITU Sec-Gen Elect

The election took place in Busan, Republic of Korea, during the Plenary session of the PP-14 conference this morning. Zhao won the position with 152 votes, with 156 countries present and voting. He contested the position unopposed. Full election results are available here.

Addressing the conference after the vote, Zhao told some 2,000 conference participants from around the world that he would do his best to “fulfil ITU’s mission, and, through our close cooperation, ensure ITU delivers services to the global telecommunication and information society at the highest level of excellence.”

Zhao is a respected telecoms engineer with over 30 years’ experience in the international environment. He currently serves as ITU Deputy-Secretary-General (DSG), a post he has held since January 2007 after being elected by ITU’s 2006 Plenipotentiary Conference in Antalya, Turkey. He was re-elected for a second four-year term at ITU’s 2010 Plenipotentiary Conference in Guadalajara, Mexico.

In his two terms as DSG, Zhao has charted a steady course for the organization, pioneering new initiatives to expand ITU membership to the global academic community, and proactively implementing efficiency improvements in human resources management and financial administration. He is well-known and well-regarded by the global ICT community, both for his technical expertise and his commitment to digital inclusion for all.

Prior to his role as Deputy, Zhao served two elected terms as Director of ITU’s Telecommunication Standardization Bureau (TSB), the part of ITU most concerned with developing global technical standards to ensure worldwide interoperability of information and communication equipment and software. Before that, he was for 12 years a Senior Counsellor with TSB, and its former incarnation, CCITT.

Update on other elections

During the same morning Plenary session, elections began for the post of Deputy Secretary-General, with five candidates contesting the position from Canada, Mauritania, Nigeria, Poland and the United Kingdom.

The elections for the posts of Director of ITU’s Radiocommunication Bureau, Telecommunication Standardization Bureau and Telecommunication Development Bureau will begin after the winner of the post of Deputy Secretary-General is announced.

These elections will be followed by elections for the Radio Regulations Board (20 candidates for 12 seats) and ITU Council, the governing body which oversees the running of the Union between quadrennial Plenipotentiary Conferences (60 candidate countries for 48 seats).

For a full list of candidates and their profiles, see

As ITU elections have the possibility of extending to several rounds of voting, the exact timing of the remaining elections is still not certain, but they are expected to be completed by the middle of the second week  of the three-week conference. A backgrounder explaining the ITU election process is available here.

A biography of Houlin Zhao is available here.

A Q&A with Houlin Zhao is available here.

Photos of Houlin Zhao can be downloaded here, and photos of the election can be downloaded here.

Broadcast crews can download b-roll of Zhao’s election here.

An updated daily list of PP-14 session timings is available here.

The PP-14 opening press release giving attendance figures is available here.

PP-14 is hosted by Korea’s Ministry of Science, ICT and Future Planning (MSIP), and is taking place at Busan’s BEXCO exhibition and conference centre from 20 October – 7 November.

The Republic of Korea is widely recognized as the world’s most connected country, topping ITU’s ICT Development Index for the past four consecutive years.

Follow @ITU and the hashtag #Plenipot14 for the latest updates. Go to to access all PP-14 social media channels.

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Find more information on the PP-14 Newsroom

Information about ITU’s previous Plenipotentiary Conference, PP-10, can be found on the PP-10 Newsroom.

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