China’s WAPI Policy: Security Measure or Trade Protectionism?

By: Zia K. Cromer

In December of 2003, the Chinese government announced that all WLAN equipment sold in China must conform to a propriety standard called WAPI, rather than the internationally accepted Wi-Fi standard. Moreover, for foreign firms to gain access to WAPI technology, they would need to partner with one of two-dozen Chinese firms designated by the Chinese government. The policy ostensibly grew out of security concerns regarding Wi-Fi, although it is unclear whether WAPI is more secure. Beijing has now indefinitely postponed the implementation of this policy, but WAPI is still relevant. This iBrief argues that WAPI is illustrative of many Chinese technical barriers to trade in the high-tech sector, and evaluates this policy’s consistency with China’s WTO obligations.

Cite: 2005 Duke L. & Tech. Rev. 0018