Wireless security tops U.S.-China trade talks

Monday, 19 April 2004, 5:00 PM EST

China's wireless-networking protocol — known as Wireless LAN Authentication and Privacy Infrastructure, or WAPI — has most grabbed the spotlight. The scheme is aimed at boosting security but is incompatible with the industry standard developed by the IEEE 802.11 working group.

While differing standards typically are not significant, China's enforcement policy has created a stir. Only a select number of Chinese companies have access to the WAPI IP, and outside semiconductor developers must partner with them to develop WAPI-compliant equipment.

China rolled out WAPI in December, ruling that as of June 1, only WAPI-compliant equipment can be used or imported into China. Many wireless-LAN semiconductor vendors are understandably vexed, since the restriction seems to violate the concept of "national treatment," a core tenet of the WTO that mandates equality in matters of market access. The United States views WAPI as a technical barrier to trade.

By Mike Clendenin and Patrick Mannion at CommsDesign.

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