BEIJING (Reuters) – China must speed up plans to replace insecure internet technology with domestic alternatives, President Xi Jinping said on Sunday, the latest indication that China is advancing policies that have raised concerns among foreign businesses.
Foreign business chambers have urged Chinese officials to revise a series of new and pending regulations mandating “secure and controllable” network technologies in industries from banking to insurance, calling them vague and discriminatory.
Those groups say the measures could give preferential treatment to Chinese companies supplying hardware and software, or that foreign firms could be required to source incompatible government-approved technology or products with security weaknesses.
But Chinese officials say businesses have nothing to fear from the policies and that the country must tackle the real and growing security risks it faces, from hacking to terrorism.
“[China] must accelerate the advancement of domestic production, indigenous and controllable substitution plans, and the building of secure and controllable information technology systems,” Xi told officials at a meeting on internet development.
“Although China’s internet technology and network security guarantees have made big achievements, there is still a huge gap compared with advanced levels around the world,” the official Xinhua news agency cited Xi as saying.
Concerns over Beijing’s “secure and controllable” technology rules have added to already rancorous trade relations between China and its major trade partners.
China also has put forward so-called Internet Plus and Made in China 2025 strategies, which aim to make Chinese firms world technology leaders and call for progressive increases in domestic components in priority industries such as robotics and information technology.
Many foreign technology firms were put on the defensive as their China businesses suffered in the wake of information leaks by former National Security Agency (NSA) contractor Edward Snowden in 2013.
US officials said last week that the FBI had arrested an NSA contractor on charges of stealing highly classified information and is investigating possible links to a recent leak of secret hacking tools used to break into the computers of adversaries such as Russia and China.
(Reporting by Michael Martina; editing by Clelia Oziel)