Date
24 November 2017
President Barack Obama says China must change its cyber security regime if it wants to do business with the US. Photo: AFP
President Barack Obama says China must change its cyber security regime if it wants to do business with the US. Photo: AFP

Obama seeks reboot of China cyber laws

United States President Barack Obama wants China to rethink a draft cyber security law, elevating the increasingly contentious issue to the top of the two countries’ bilateral agenda, the Financial Times reported Wednesday.

Obama said the United States has made it clear that China must change its cyber security regime if it wants to do business with the US.

“This is something that I’ve raised with President Xi [Jinping],” Obama said.

Obama expressed concern about a draft provision that would force telecom and internet companies to provide Beijing with “back doors” into their systems, as well as require them to store data in China.

China’s telecom market is dominated by large state companies that can already be trusted to turn over information demanded by Beijing’s security agencies but multinationals also use foreign providers for private networks and other services.

In recent weeks, US and European executives have expressed alarm over the proposed legislation targeting telecom companies, internet service providers and banks.

The proposal is in the drafting process but could begin to take effect this month.

Business lobby groups have asked the Obama administration and the European Commission to raise the issue in bilateral trade talks with Beijing.

They suspect that the new rules, which Chinese government officials say are needed to address legitimate national security concerns, are in fact aimed at boosting China’s own tech companies.

Four US cabinet secretaries have written to their Chinese counterparts about the issue, according to people familiar with the diplomatic exchange.

In a statement last week, US Trade Representative Michael Froman also argued that the new regulations “go directly against a series of China’s bilateral and multilateral trade commitments”.

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