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U.S. tech groups press Obama on Chinese cybersecurity

Wed 12 Aug 2015

A collection of U.S. business and industry groups is urging President Obama to reason with Beijing on technology protectionism ahead of Chinese President Xi Jinping’s upcoming visit to the States.

According to a letter addressed to Obama on the 11th August, the group of 19 industry bodies are lobbying for China to scale back its cybersecurity measures. The American Chamber of Commerce in China, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the National Association of Manufacturers and the Information Technology Industry Council are among the focus groups.

‘China has increasingly pursued policies that have adversely affected the ability of U.S. ICT firms (and the companies that rely on them) to do business in China,’ the letter read.

Highlighting China’s ‘approach to defining its national security interests’ as a major concern, the lobbyists referred to a number of recent regulations which raise suspicion as to the country’s commitment to open markets.

The letter argues that Obama needs to reach an agreement with Jinping to ensure that protectionist legislation would not damage competition.

Earlier this year Beijing made the decision to drop Western tech products for state-approved purchases, replacing them with locally manufactured goods.

“The Snowden incident [has] become a real concern, especially for top leaders,” said Tu Xinquan, associate director of the China Institute of WTO Studies, University of International Business and Economics, Beijing. “In some sense the American government has some responsibility for that; [China’s] concerns have some legitimacy.”

Last month China also passed a new cybersecurity law to make the internet more “controllable”, extending the government’s power over the Chinese cyberspace. The new National Security Law proposes to “safeguard national security, defend the people’s democratic dictatorship and the socialist system with Chinese characteristics.”

Chinese authorities continue to insist that they invite all foreign business to operate within the country, but will not compromise on information security threats.

The U.S. has also expanded measures over foreign tech firms. Huawei and ZTE are currently unable to fully operate on U.S. soil after lawmakers agreed that the two firms posed threats to national security.


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