Updated 11:29 AM EDT, Tue, Jun 16, 2020

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China Invites Foreign Tech Firms to Make Inputs in Cybersecurity Bill

Microsoft, China Internet

(Photo : Getty Images) People walk past the Microsoft stand at the 2016 CeBIT digital technology trade fair on the fair's opening day in Hanover, Germany.

China is inviting foreign technology firms to join a key government committee to take part in deliberations on the country's latest cybersecurity bill, the Wall Street Journal reported.

Select foreign companies including Microsoft Corp., Intel Corp., Cisco Systems Inc., and International Business Machines Corp. have reportedly been invited to actively participate in drafting the rules instead of merely being observers, sources familiar with the matter said.

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The move comes as China has faced criticism from international firms, who have expressed worry that the country's laws that prevent cyber espionage might shut them out of the Chinese market, The Hill reported.

Authorities are hoping that the committee would enhance China's international standing as a technology hub, the Business Insider reported. The agency, dubbed as the Technical Committee 260 (TC260), aims to define what "secure and controllable" technologies are. The committee would also decide if China should adopt standards that challenge international norms.

"We should energetically participate in the development of international rules and standards for the Internet space, to strengthen our power of discourse and our influence," the Cyberspace Administration of China, the internet regulator that TC260 reports to, said.

Meanwhile, The Wall Street Journal reported that the administration's latest cyber-directives issued on Monday showed a change in tone. Although the new guideline encouraged stringent cybersecurity control, it also emphasized the need to set common standards among China's national and local governments.

On the other hand, Bruce McConnell, vice president of the EastWest Institute, said: "It's still early days, but there are encouraging signs that China is recognizing the international nature of the tech supply chain and working more broadly to align its strategy with the market realities." 

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