Beijing urges US to end tech ban

Updated: 2013-03-29 00:21

By Cheng Guangjin and Pu Zhendong (China Daily)

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China urged the United States to abandon its new government ban on purchasing information technology systems made by companies in China, the Foreign Ministry said on Thursday.

The ban will affect mutual trust and hurt the Sino-US trade relationship, said Hong Lei, the ministry's spokesman. He was responding to the provision in a spending bill signed by US President Barack Obama on Tuesday.

Analysts said the US is taking advantage of cybersecurity issues to protect its own information technology industry, which is "pouring cold water on the two countries' trade ties".

"China's information technology industry has been developing rapidly in recent years, and this has had a great impact on the same industry in the US," said Ni Feng, a researcher of American Studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.

The provision prohibits the US Commerce and Justice departments, NASA and the National Science Foundation from buying information technology systems that are "produced, manufactured or assembled" by any entity that is "owned, operated or subsidized" by China, The Associated Press reported.

The agencies can only acquire the technology if, in consultation with the Federal Bureau of Investigation, they determine that there is no risk of "cyberespionage or sabotage associated with the acquisition of the system", said AP.

The bill "uses cybersecurity as an excuse to take discriminatory steps against Chinese companies", Hong said.


The US has stepped up the rhetoric against China since the US cybersecurity firm Mandiant released a report last month which alleged that a secret Chinese military unit in Shanghai was behind years of cyberattacks against US companies.

China said such accusations are groundless and called for cooperation in cyberspace.

Meanwhile, the US and Japan will hold their first dialogue on cybersecurity in Tokyo in May, according to Japan's Kyodo News Agency.

The two countries said cyberattacks from countries, including China, are new threats to their national security, according to Kyodo.

The head of the US Cyber Command said earlier this month that the US is developing 40 new teams of cyberagents that will protect its critical infrastructure from hackers as well as launch attacks against the country's adversaries.

Yang Yujun, a spokesman for the Ministry of National Defense, noted that sources of cyberattacks are difficult to locate. "Cyberattacks are a global issue, which is anonymous, cross-border and deceptive."

Yang said at a news conference on Thursday that China has noted that the US makes groundless accusations about other countries while developing its own offensive cyberarmy.

"What is needed in cyberspace is peace and cooperation, not war and confrontation," he said.

The measure "could turn out to be a harsh blow" for Chinese computer maker Lenovo and also "bring some surprises for American companies selling commercial IT gear to the government", Stewart Baker, a partner in the Washington office of Steptoe & Johnson LLP and a former assistant secretary in the US Department of Homeland Security, wrote on the "Volokh Conspiracy", a prominent legal blog in the US.

Ni, the Chinese researcher, said that "cybersecurity serves as a good cause for the US to contain the development of China's information technology industry in order to protect its own".

The ban will affect China's exports of information technology products to the US and development of Chinese information technology companies in the US, he said.

Last year, the US House Intelligence Committee released a report urging US telecommunication companies not to do business with China's telecommunication giants Huawei Technologies and ZTE Corp because of the potential security threat.

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