U.S. businesses lobby Obama on China tech protectionism concerns

Wed Aug 12, 2015 7:19am EDT
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By Michael Martina

BEIJING Aug 12 (Reuters) - American business groups are lobbying U.S. President Barack Obama to press Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping on technology protectionism concerns during Xi's upcoming U.S. visit, according to a letter addressed to Obama seen by Reuters.

In the letter dated Aug. 11, 19 U.S. business lobbies including the American Chamber of Commerce in China and U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and sector-focused groups including the National Association of Manufacturers and Information Technology Industry Council, prodded Obama to raise the issues faced by the information and communications technology (ICT) sector.

"China has increasingly pursued policies that have adversely affected the ability of U.S. ICT firms (and the companies that rely on them) to do business in China," the groups wrote.

The lobbies specified China's "approach to defining its national security interests", as a key concern, citing a range of new and proposed laws that the U.S. groups said call into question the world's second-largest economy's commitments to open markets.

China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs and State Council Information Office did not immediately respond to written requests for comment.

U.S. technology groups have been at loggerheads with China since the country started acting on worries its national security was threatened by the ubiquity of American technology.

Those fears stemmed from former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden's 2013 leaks, showing that the U.S. government had planted backdoors in products from America's biggest technology companies, in order to spy on communications.

In their letter to Obama, the co-signees pressed him to achieve a commitment that the two countries wouldn't use the veil of national security to push through protectionist economic policies that restrict competition.   Continued...