Beijing’s cyber-protectionism

An extraordinary coalition of business federations from the United States, Europe and Japan teamed up this week to send Beijing a message: back off of proposed cyber-security regulations that would force foreign firms to store data in China and surrender information and technology to Chinese security inspectors.

The business groups, which included the US Chamber of Commerce, BusinessEurope and Japan’s Keidanren, decried the new rules in a letter sent to Chinese premier Li Keqiang. Other signatories included more than 40 global industry groups representing financial services, technology and manufacturing sectors, and business lobbies from Australia, Mexico and Switzerland.

The petition was a response to draft regulations, announced by the China Insurance Regulatory Commission last month, requiring foreign insurers to use Chinese hardware and software to store and encrypt data. But global firms also are fuming over new banking regulations that would require them to hand over key technologies such as source codes and encryption algorithms to the Chinese government. (Beijing has delayed implementing those rules after protest from Washington.)

China insists it needs tighter controls on cyber-security and the Internet to guard against terrorism. Global companies aren’t buying it. The letter casts the regulations as thinly disguised protectionism and warns they will further isolate China from the global digital economy. The new provisions would “have no additional security benefits but would impede economic growth and create barriers to entry for both foreign and Chinese companies,” the letter declares. Continue reading “Beijing’s cyber-protectionism”

Nuclear power vs people power

China’s leaders often are portrayed in West as all-powerful dictators. I can’t count the number of times I’ve heard American business executives assert that the secret of China’s rapid economic development is the ability of its communist overseers to steamroll domestic dissent. And yet the outcome of anti-nuclear protests this week in Lianyungang, a coastal city about 300 miles north of Shanghai, suggests the reality is a lot more complicated. Continue reading “Nuclear power vs people power”

Choppy water

China’s has been making waves this week, and not just in the swimming pools of Rio.

Over the weekend, the Japanese government charged China with stirring up trouble in the East China Sea by dispatching more than 200 fishing boats into waters near islands Japan occupies but both countries claim.

On Monday, the New York Times published a series of photos collected and analyzed by the Center for Strategic Studies that appears to show China has built reinforced aircraft hangars on the three reefs it controls in disputed waters in the South China Sea. CSIS analysts say the hangars are large enough to accommodate military aircraft–bombers, refueling tankers and transport planes–which would seem to contradict Chinese president Xi Jinping’s September promise to President Obama that “China does not intend to pursue militarization” of the islets. Continue reading “Choppy water”

The enigma of Trump’s China policy

China-bashing is one of the most enduring features of Donald Trump’s policy platform–as we know from last year’s viral  “Chay-na! Chay-na! Chay-na!” montage.  On Twitter, Trump rails about China more frequently than Mexico or even ISIS.

And so it was no surprise that talk about getting tough with Beijing featured prominently when Trump unveiled his economic agenda Monday.

In a speech delivered before the Detroit Economic Club Trump declared “trade enforcement with China” to be “at the center of my plan,” and promised that by standing up to China he would “return millions of jobs into our country.”  He denounced China for manipulating its currency, called for stronger protection of US intellectual property and reiterated his call for the US to pull out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

The usual fare. But what was surprising (at least to me) is that for all the times Trump has boasted about “getting tough” with China, so far he’s said practically nothing about how he’d actually do that. Continue reading “The enigma of Trump’s China policy”

Blame it on Rio!

China’s bid for recognition as a global superpower in sports seemed back on track Sunday, after Chinese athletes in diving, shooting and weightlifting claimed gold medals at the summer Olympic games in Rio.

Those victories followed a shaky start for China at this year’s games, leading some to wonder momentarily whether China’s prowess as an Olympic juggernaut may be faltering in tandem with the declining fortunes of the economy. Some of China’s strongest contenders failed to produce gold medals on Opening Day. Continue reading “Blame it on Rio!”

Barbarians shown the gate

When Uber Technology chief executive Travis Kalanick announced earlier this week that Uber will sell its China operations to arch-rival Didi Chuxing Technology Co he joined a long line of global tech titans forced to retreat from China.

Yahoo surrendered China operations to Alibaba in 2005. EBay withdrew from China in 2006. Facebook and Twitter have been banned since 2009. Google shut down its China search engine in 2010. Instagram and Snapchat have been blocked since 2014.

Uber’s exit provides the starkest evidence to date that China—the world’s second largest economy and No 1 market for ride-hailing— is off-limits to non-Chinese technology firms. Continue reading “Barbarians shown the gate”