Chinese wireless encryption system rejected

/ Source: The Associated Press

A global standards-setting group has rejected China’s controversial wireless encryption system, dealing a blow to Beijing’s efforts to promote its homegrown protocol around the world.

Members of the Geneva-based International Organization for Standardization (ISO) voted down the technology known as WAPI in favor of an American standard known as 802.11i, the group said Monday.

China is promoting WAPI and other technologies in a campaign to reduce reliance on foreign technology and give its companies a competitive edge.

But Chinese officials still plan to press ahead with the campaign to promote WAPI and to use it domestically, the Chinese government’s Xinhua News Agency said. The agency didn’t cite a source, and it wasn’t clear whether the dispatch was an official announcement.

Last year, China dropped an effort to make WAPI its mandatory national standard after the U.S. government complained that it would hamper access to the Chinese market for foreign companies.

China’s high-tech companies could benefit if its system won acceptance as a world standard, because they would have a head start and could license their technology abroad.

But only eight of 25 ISO members voted in favor of China’s proposal, far short of the 75 percent approval needed in order for a draft amendment to be carried, the organization said. The balloting was closed on March 7.

Still, the Chinese government “insisted that it will firmly support the technology called WAPI and failure in the international standard application will not affect its domestic use,” Xinhua said.

“China is sure to continue government support to WAPI,” an unidentified official of the Standard Administration of China was quoted as saying.

Xinhua cited Chinese officials who complained of “obstruction from the monopoly groups” in the information technology industry.

“The diplomatic relationship between the United States and other nations also influenced the voting choice of the national bodies,” the Chinese standards official was quoted as saying.

Last week, China announced the creation of a 22-member group of companies to promote WAPI. Members include Lenovo Group, the world’s No. 3 PC maker, and Huawei Technologies, a leading maker of switching equipment used by telecoms.

The Chinese government has promoted WAPI as being more secure than 802.11i, developed by a group led by U.S.-based Intel Corp., the world’s biggest computer chip maker.

But the U.S.-based electronics industry newspaper EE Times, citing ISO documents, said those who voted against WAPI expressed concern that its development was closed to outsiders and that China has released too little information about it.

Companies that opposed Beijing’s effort to make WAPI mandatory complained that access to its technology was limited to 11 government-selected Chinese companies.

There has been no indication that the latest WAPI promotion effort includes regulations requiring telecoms or computer makers operating in China to use it.