China pushes back against new IT sourcing rules

room of computers

China is unhappy with new provisions in U.S. law that put new restrictions on four federal agencies' ability to acquire IT equipment from the nation.

The law sends the wrong signal, and will affect trade and business relations between Chinese IT companies and their American partners, said a spokesperson for China's Ministry of Commerce, as quoted in state-run news outlet Xinhua.

The new rules, which apply to NASA, the Commerce and Justice departments and the National Science Foundation, were signed into law on March 28, as a small provision in the continuing resolution to keep the U.S. government open through the current fiscal year.

It's not clear what China could do to protest the move. Stewart Baker, a national security lawyer and former senior official in the Department of Homeland Security noted on the legal blog the Volokh Conspiracy, that China could try to protest the move with the World Trade Organization. Baker wrote that any case China tries to make on these grounds could be weakened by China's status as an observer and not a signatory to the WTO's government procurement agreement, and because the U.S. rules apply to "purchase from Chinese-government-influenced entities, no matter where these entities manufacture their products."

So far, the affected agencies haven't disclosed how they plan to cope with the changes in IT acquisition.

About the Author

Adam Mazmanian is executive editor of FCW.

Before joining the editing team, Mazmanian was an FCW staff writer covering Congress, government-wide technology policy, health IT and the Department of Veterans Affairs. Prior to joining FCW, Mr. Mazmanian was technology correspondent for National Journal and served in a variety of editorial at B2B news service SmartBrief. Mazmanian started his career as an arts reporter and critic, and has contributed reviews and articles to the Washington Post, the Washington City Paper, Newsday, Architect magazine, and other publications. He was an editorial assistant and staff writer at the now-defunct New York Press and arts editor at the online network in the 1990s, and was a weekly contributor of music and film reviews to the Washington Times from 2007 to 2014.

Click here for previous articles by Mazmanian. Connect with him on Twitter at @thisismaz.

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Reader comments

Tue, Apr 2, 2013 Ray

Hmm...They do not want to sign up to playing in the sandbox (according to the article) yet they want to be treated the same as those who have. They also have a history of underhanded computer espionage, and they are trying to say it is unfair that the rules are (potentially) blocking them from doing that?

It is unfair, but if you have a reputation, you have to expect people to not want to get burned.

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