China Backs Off WAPI Proposal

China agreed Wednesday not to implement a proposed wireless encryption standard widely opposed by U.S. companies.

April 22, 2004

2 Min Read
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Washington -- China agreed Wednesday (April 21) not to implement a proposed wireless encryption standard widely opposed by U.S. companies.

Chinese Vice Premier Wu Yi announced the decision to indefinitely delay implementation of the Wireless LAN Authentication and Privacy Infrastructure, or WAPI, standard following day-long talks with U.S. trade official here.

The standard was to have taken effect on June 1.

Industry groups that have been lobbying the Bush administration for months to block the Chinese deployment praised the decision.

"This is a very positive outcome for our trade relationship with China," said Information Technology Industry Council (ITI) President Rhett Dawson. "The decision by the Chinese to continue to develop the WAPI standard through the international standards process will benefit the Chinese and global industry and consumers everywhere."U.S. industry executives are expected to travel to China next month to begin talks aimed at integrating WAPI into the international standards process. The talks will be sponsored by the Standardization Administration of China (SAC) and the IEEE.

Prior to today's decision, companies like Intel Corp. and Broadcom Corp. had said they would not develop WAPI-compliant gear.

In an interview, ITI Dawson added, "WAPI, as it exists now, will not be implemented." The SAC will work international standards bodies, likely the IEEE, to develop a new WAPI standard, he said, and they will no longer require outside companies to work with Chinese companies to acquire IP, thereby conforming to WTO regulations on national treatment.

The same approach will apply to 3G as China opens its market to competition so that W-CDMA, TD-SCDMA or other specs can compete on equal standing without government mandates.

"China has recognized its obligations to the WTO and working at joining the world community," said Dawson.Also praising the move was the Semiconductor Industry Association. SIA President George Scalise said in a statement, "China's decision to work through the established processes for development of international standards will benefit both Chinese and international suppliers of information technology products. The major beneficiaries will be the people of China, who will be assured of having access to the latest technology at competitive costs."

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