• China invites foreign tech companies to cybersecurity discussions.

China invites foreign tech companies to cybersecurity discussions. (Photo : Getty Images)

China is changing its way of dealing with tech companies outside the country as it now welcomes opinions and comments from them in drafting a new cybersecurity rule that covers foreign firms like Microsoft.

A report from the Wall Street Journal revealed how China is setting a "new tone" that is more inclusive than ever as select foreign tech companies like Microsoft and Cisco are now given the chance to share their thoughts on standards of cybersecurity.

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The Initiative

"We should energetically participate in the development of international rules and standards for the internet space, to strengthen our power of discourse and our influence," the CAC said in a statement.

Based on the WSJ report, the Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC) made an initiative to invite several foreign tech firms to join the Technical Committee 260 (TC260) where the cyber security standards of the country will be discussed.

Aside from Microsoft Corp. and Cisco Systems Inc., other companies who were invited to join the activities under the TC260 are Intel Corp. and International Business Machines Corp. (IBM).

Microsoft and Cisco confirmed that they will be joining the initiative where they will "take an active part in drafting rules, rather than participating simply as observers, the WSJ stated.

The issues to be tackled in the initiative are divided into seven working groups including one that would focus on encryption and another on cloud computing and big data.

The Extent of Collaboration

While China appears to be lightening up with foreign tech companies through the TC260, there is still the question of the extent of influence that the companies will present per insider sources who are familiar with the matter.

Even so, analysts are happy to see that China is now opening its ears to opinions from others who are as much a part of the issue as the country.

"It's still early days, but there are encouraging signs that China is recognizing the international nature of the tech supply chain and working more broadly to align its strategy with the market realities," said Bruce McConnell of the EastWest Institute, a New York-based think tank.

In the recent past, China has also showed signs that it is gradually opening up for public opinion particularly in July when a draft of the Cybersecurity Law was passed around the Internet for public comment.

The country has also proven its willingness to extend open arms to foreign investors when Beijing suspended rules that requires tech firms to prove that their equipment is "secure and controllable" via intense testing and information disclosure.