The biggest information technology (IT) exhibition Europe has staged in China has attracted more than 160 European companies despite rampant piracy of intellectual property. Organised by the European Commission and the Ministry of Science and Technology and Ministry of Information Technology, the exhibition will be held from April 16-20 at the China World Trade Centre in Beijing. More than 1,000 participants are expected, organisers said yesterday. Jurgen Sanders, from the European Union's embassy in Beijing, said the response from Europe had been much larger than for similar shows in the United States and Japan. 'Protection of intellectual property is a big headache,' Mr Sanders said. 'We have a big problem with products copied in China. We have co-operation with the Ministry of Foreign Trade and Economic Co-operation on copyright protection. 'Copying shows an openness to new ideas. In standards and regulations, we would like copying to make unified standards. In research, we must work together to make new products.' One of the main exhibitors is Finnish telecommunications giant Nokia. China became Nokia's second-biggest market worldwide last August, with sales of 3.4 billion euros (about HK$23.1 billion), said Jari Vaarior, Nokia's director for research and development in China. 'Our total investment in China is 2.3 billion euros, with 5,000 employees and eight joint ventures in 30 locations. Last year, we exported from China goods worth US$2.5 billion, making us the largest exporter of any foreign-invested firm,' Mr Vaarior said. 'We do the full spectrum of [research and development].' On Monday, the China Daily reported that small- and medium-sized companies would spend 100.8 billion yuan (about HK$94.4 billion) on IT products this year and that the amount would reach 223 billion yuan in 2006.