China Does Wireless Its Own Way

China has revived its effort to promote its own encryption standard for wireless communications, unveiling a 22-member alliance of leading Chinese computer and telecommunications firms to encourage its use, a media report said Wednesday.

Beijing caused an uproar last year when it tried to compel computer and telecom companies to use its standard, known as WAPI. It dropped that in a deal with Washington last April after foreign companies complained it would hurt their access to China's markets.

It wasn't clear from the report in the official China Daily newspaper what specific measures the new government-backed alliance had adopted, or whether the effort would include any regulatory requirements to use the WAPI standard.

The alliance includes Lenovo Group, the world's No. 3 PC maker, and Huawei Technologies, a leading producer of network switching equipment, the report said.

It noted that the group's creation "might revive the WAPI tussle between China and the United States."

The Chinese government says WAPI, or wireless authentication and privacy infrastructure, is more secure than current wireless standards for laptop computers, mobile phones and other equipment.

But foreign companies said making its use mandatory could shut them out of China, because control over the technology was limited to 11 government-selected Chinese firms.

China is the world's biggest mobile phone market, with more than 400 million customers, and the second-largest Internet market after the United States, with more than 100 million people on line.

A U.S. company, Conexant Broadband Communications, a maker of chips for broadband communications, has applied to join the new Chinese group, and "could be approved soon," the China Daily said.

Other members of the group include leading consumer electronics makers Haier Group and Hisense, mobile phone maker Datang Mobile and Datang Microelectronics Technology, the newspaper said.

Beijing is pushing efforts to develop Chinese standards for PC operating systems, mobile phones and other high-tech products in an effort to reduce reliance on foreign technology and spur the creation of new domestic industries.

"Domestic standard groups should work with international organizations to turn WAPI into a global standard," said Zhang Xiaoqiang, vice-minister of the Chinese Cabinet's National Development and Reform Commission, according to the China Daily report.

Zhang said WAPI would better "guarantee China's information security," the newspaper said.