SHANGHAI (Reuters) - China is asking some U.S. technology firms to directly pledge their commitment to contentious policies that could require them to turn user data and intellectual property over to the government, The New York Times reported.
Citing unidentified sources, the report said Beijing had distributed a document to some U.S. firms earlier this summer asking them to promise they would not harm China’s national security and would store Chinese user data within the country.
The NYT report, which comes just ahead of President Xi Jinping’s first state visit to the United States, did not identify which companies had been asked to make the pledge.
The document also asked the companies that their products be “secure and controllable”, a phrase that industry groups said could be used to force companies to build so-called back doors that would allow third-party access to systems, it said.
The Cyberspace Administration of China denied that the government had sent the pledge documents to U.S. firms, but said a document had been sent by a government body overseeing information security certification.
“As we understand, the so-called pledge documents were sent by the China Information Security Certification Center to foreign firms and were letters soliciting suggestions,” the cyberspace body said in emailed comments to Reuters, adding this was done according to Chinese law and international practice.
Sources told Reuters last month that China had resumed work on a set of banking cyber security regulations it suspended earlier this year.
The previous regulations - containing provisions that required Chinese banks to buy more domestic IT equipment and Western tech vendors to disclose secret source code if they sell to lenders - drew strong protests from foreign business lobbies, the U.S. and European governments.
China regulators suspended the plan in April, saying they would consider feedback from domestic banks. The suspension was seen as a diplomatic victory for the Obama administration, coming shortly after visits to Beijing by Treasury Secretary Jack Lew and Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker.
In July, China’s legislature adopted a sweeping national security law that said all key network infrastructure and information systems must be “secure and controllable”.
Reporting by Kazunori Takada and Adam Jourdan; Editing by Paul Tait and Richard Pullin