China "resolutely opposes" new US curbs on infotech imports

BEIJING (REUTERS) - China expressed "resolute opposition" and "strong dissatisfaction" with a new US cyber-espionage rule limiting imports of Chinese-made information technology products, state media reported on Saturday.

The remarks underscore growing tension between the world's top two economies after the United States accused China of backing a string of hacking attacks on US companies and government agencies.

China says the accusation lacks proof and that it is also a victim of hacking attacks, more than half of which originate from the United States.

The new provision, tucked into a funding Bill signed into law on Thursday, requires NASA, as well as the Justice and Commerce Departments, to seek approval from federal law enforcement officials before buying information technology systems from China.

The United States imports about US$129 billion (S$160 billion) worth of "advanced technology products" from China, according to a May 2012 report by the US Congressional Research Service.

State media including Xinhua, the China Daily and the People's Daily, quoted a spokesman for the Ministry of Commerce as saying the US Bill "sends a very wrong signal".

"This will directly impact partnerships of Chinese enterprises and American business as they conduct regular trade," said Mr Shen Danyang, the commerce ministry spokesman.

"This abuse of so-called national security measures is unfair to Chinese enterprises, and extends the discriminatory practice of presumption of guilt," the article in the official People's Daily said, quoting Mr Shen.

"This severely damages mutual trust between the US and China." The United States should eliminate the law, Mr Shen said.

Technology security lawyer Stewart Baker wrote in a blog post this week that China could claim that the United States is violating World Trade Organisation rules.

However, because Beijing hasn't signed a WTO agreement setting international rules for government procurement, it may not be successful in its challenge, Mr Baker said.

Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Hong Lei also urged the US to abandon the law at a news conference on Thursday.

"This Bill uses Internet security as an excuse to take discriminatory steps against Chinese companies," he said.

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.