China's foreign minister on Wednesday insisted that U.S. companies have nothing to fear from a new anti-terrorism law that the Obama administration warns could require firms to open up their proprietary source code to Beijing, Reuters reports.
“This rule won't limit the lawful operations of companies, does not provide a 'back door' and will affect neither the firms' intellectual property nor Internet users' freedom of speech,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said.
The law is “both totally rational and necessary” to combat the threat of terrorists using the Internet to operate within China, Hong added.
The law is currently before a standing committee of China’s parliament, the National People’s Congress, which ends Sunday.
The U.S. State Department expressed “serious concerns” this week that the law would do more harm than good in combating the threat of terrorism.
Hong said China was “dissatisfied” with the U.S. position and echoed President Xi Jinping, who recently condemned “double standards,” insisting that each country should be permitted to regulate its own Internet.
“While formulating this law, we referred to the laws of other countries, including the United States," Hong said, pointing to a U.S. wiretapping law.
Critics have said that the law, when combined with new draft banking cybersecurity regulations, amounts to digital protectionism.
A national security law, adopted in July, requires all technologies — including those belonging to foreign firms — to be “secure and controllable.”
The draft banking rules were originally intended to be implemented as part of the July legislation, but were suspended in April in response to heavy pushback from the international business community, the Obama administration and other foreign governments. At the time, it was considered a diplomatic victory for the U.S.
In August, Beijing resumed consideration of the rules, which would require Chinese firms to buy more domestic IT and force foreign vendors to disclose proprietary source code.
Xi earlier this month obliquely chided the international community for interfering in China’s digital policy.
“No country should pursue cyber hegemony, interfere in other countries’ internal affairs or engage in, connive at, or support cyber activities that undermine other counties’ national security,” Xi said at China’s second World Internet Conference in Wuzhen.
The new law is expected to pass. Officials have said that it is "already quite mature" and have "suggested" it be put forward for approval, according to China's state newspaper Xinhua.