What a pity… WAPI seems to be back. A proposal to make mandatory the expansion of WAPI (Wireless Authentication and Privacy Infrastructure), China’s domestically-developed WLAN standard, was submitted to the National People’s Congress this week.
For sure, China’s domestic market is largely dominated by foreign-developed WLAN products. But the argument that reliance on them is harmful to state security is completely flawed – encryption software being one solution. The second argument, that without government intervention it will be impossible for WAPI to become the national standard, doesn’t either justify such a measure – in the end standards have to make economic sense.
The signs seem to be clear: Previous attempts to impose WAPI already caused severe trade frictions between China and the USA. ISO rejected China’s WAPI as an international WLAN standard in 2006, edaling a blow to China’s techno-nationalism. Even Chinese operators are starting WiFi projects across the country based on 802.11.
Beijing may have to realise that not all standards should be Chinese. Imposing standards will not only hurt the Chinese economy but also damage its image abroad.