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Network products receive lift
By Liu Baijia (China Daily)
Updated: 2006-01-07 06:59

Products that comply with the Chinese security standard for wireless networks will get a boost from the central government in the form of a recommendation for procurement.

According to a circular published on the website of the National Development and Reform Commission on Thursday, organizations using the State budgets to procure computers, telecommunication equipment, printers, copies and projectors should give preference to the recommended products from next month.

The joint circular by the commission, the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Information Industry said those organizations, which have special requirements on information security, must buy recommended products.

The circular says the main purposes are to protect national information security, safeguard the interests of the nation and society, and promote the national economy and the use of information technology.

The new policy again puts the Chinese wireless local area network (WLAN) security standard BWIPS (broadband wireless Internet protocol standard) into the spotlight.

The standard claims to ensure higher security on information transmission in a WLAN network, which became a hot issue because of aggressive pushes from international giants, especially Intel. One of the biggest features of Intel's Centrino notebook processors is its WLAN capability.

However, the WLAN network is also known for its lower security control, which can lead to information leakage, so some Chinese researchers decided to start to develop a solution. The result is BWIPS, which became the national compulsory standard in 2003.

The Chinese standard required all players in the WLAN industry to make their products comply with the BWIPS standard and co-operate with some Chinese partners.

That aroused complaints from companies such as Intel and WLAN chipmaker Broadcom, which finally became a focal point of a trade dispute between China and the United States.

In 2004, the two countries reached an agreement, and China promised to postpone the implementation of the standard indefinitely.

A member of the BWIPS working group, who declined to be named, said yesterday that the circular is just a confirmation of the Chinese Government's emphasis on information security and encouragement on technological innovation.

"It is a question of national security, so the top officials in the government are also very attentive to that, meaning that State agencies should act first," he said in a telephone interview.

Intel, a strong opponent of that standard, declined to comment, saying it should evaluate the policy first.

Li Ke, a senior semiconductor analyst with the domestic research house CCID Consulting, said that the circular shows the government's concern about information security and its intention to encourage the use of the domestic technology.

"Although the implementation of BWIPS was postponed, it is still an effective national standard, so it is not surprising that products based on the standard become recommended products" he said.

He added that since the circular addresses only government procurement and every country has the right to give preferences to domestic products and services, that move does not violate the principles of the World Trade Organization.

(China Daily 01/07/2006 page5)

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