The Chinese technology rules, which Beijing says are intended to strengthen online security in the government and critical industries, are the first of a series of policies expected to be unveiled in the coming year. A proposed antiterror law that seems to have the backing of China's security apparatus mandates that foreign companies give up encryption keys or use Chinese encryption in all devices sold in the country.
Foreign trade groups representing multinationals like Microsoft, IBM and Apple say the security concerns are a pretext to pass protectionist policies shutting foreign companies out of one of the world's largest and fastest-growing information technology markets.
In a statement on Thursday, Josh Kallmer, senior vice president for global policy at the Information Technology Industry Council, a trade group that represents 60 tech companies including Microsoft and IBM, said that the rules suspension was welcome and that he hoped "this announcement means that Chinese financial institutions will have full access to the best technology — whether made domestically or globally." The group wants "the Chinese government to embrace a globally leading role in undertaking open and transparent consultative processes among stakeholders in developing cybersecurity measures," he said.
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As the United States and China spar over technology concerns, the United States has also said that telecommunications and computing equipment made by the Chinese company Huawei could have so-called back doors — allowing monitoring by third parties — making it virtually impossible for Huawei to sell higher-end networking equipment in the United States. And more recently, President Obama warned that countries found to be responsible for online attacks against American companies might be subject to sanctions, a comment that analysts said was aimed in part at China.
In addition to raising concerns after Mr. Snowden's revelations, high-ranking Chinese security analysts have called vociferously, in a movement trumpeted in China's state-run media, for China to get rid of high-end computing equipment made by companies like IBM and Oracle and used in critical industries like energy, banking and telecommunications.
"I think the direction is clear," said Adam Segal, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations. "There will still be some type of regulation that in the Chinese mind addresses their security concerns and gives greater transparency into U.S. technology companies. I don't think that's going to change."
Given the overwhelming rhetorical support in China behind initiatives like the banking rules, the current suspension may simply be part of a broader diplomatic initiative. China and the United States are scheduled to meet in Washington soon for the high-level Security and Economic Dialogue, where senior officials from both sides deliberate on prominent issues. China may have decided that it did not want to mar that meeting with further complaints from the Obama administration about the unfair banking regulations, according to the American industry official.
In September, President Xi Jinping will travel to the United States for his first visit to the country as leader of China.
Mr. Xi has taken a personal interest in online security as the chairman of a Communist Party group on the subject. He has openly called for China to become an "Internet power" and take a more active role in the global management of the Internet. He has set up a new agency, the Cyberspace Administration of China, to consolidate management over the Internet and technology.