February 6, 2015 / 9:20 AM / 5 years ago

U.S. businesses ask White House to help on China cybersecurity rules

A map of China is seen through a magnifying glass on a computer screen showing binary digits in Singapore in this January 2, 2014 photo illustration. Picture taken January 2, 2014. REUTERS/Edgar Su

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. business lobbies called on the White House this week for help to overturn new Chinese cybersecurity regulations they say would hurt market opportunities abroad and jobs in the United States.

In a letter sent to officials including Secretary of State John Kerry and U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman on Feb. 4, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and 16 other U.S. business lobbies said the new rules raised questions about China’s international trade commitments.

“(We) request your immediate action to work with Chinese officials to reverse an alarming number of troubling, new Chinese government policies impacting the information and communications technology (ICT) sector,” said the letter, first reported in the Wall Street Journal.

Cybersecurity has been a significant irritant in U.S.-China ties, with both sides accusing the other of abuses. U.S. tech groups wrote to the Chinese administration about the same policies on Jan. 28.

New cybersecurity regulations would force technology vendors to Chinese banks to hand over secret source code and adopt Chinese encryption algorithms.

The policies would have a “significant negative impact” on U.S. ICT companies’ market opportunities in China and ultimately crimp investment in research and development back home, hurting U.S. jobs, the groups said.

U.S. manufacturers would also suffer as the policies would restrict cross-border data flows and create another market barrier for foreign financial services and telecommunications companies said the letter, which was also signed by the National Association of Manufacturers.

American companies have enjoyed huge market opportunities in China, China’s Foreign Ministry spokesman, Hong Lei, said in Beijing on Friday.

“We will continue to guarantee the legal rights of foreign enterprises in China, and welcome them to continue to break new ground in China’s market and jointly research and produce with Chinese firms,” Hong told a regular news briefing.

Reporting by Krista Hughes; Additional reporting by Michael Martina in BEIJING; Editing by Bernard Orr and Clarence Fernandez

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