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China re-starts banking technology discussions

China has revived plans for banking security regulations that it dropped earlier this year, Reuters has reported21 Aug 2015

Officials from the China Banking Regulatory Commission (BCRC) told several western technology companies at a meeting in Beijing that they will be looking for opinions over the next month on a new version of the banking rules, one of the attendees told Reuters.

Previous versions of the plans demanded that banks buy "secure and reliable" IT equipment in order to operate in China. Each bank would have to submit plans on how it would convert its IT systems to ensure that at least 75% of equipment met the criteria within four years. Banks were also asked to submit encryption keys protecting data, and to allow testing by the Chinese authorities. Business organisations in Europe and the US protested against the proposed rules and asked their governments to intervene.

BRBC and the Chinese Ministry of Industry and Information Technology said in April that they would reconsider and reissue the guidelines after "revising and perfecting" them. China would continue to conform to World Trade Organisation rules, BRBC said.

Reuters' source said that few details were given on how the new regulations will be developed, but that he or she believed there will be more consultation than previously.

"No one doubted they were going to come back," another person familiar with last week's meeting told Reuters. "We're all still trying to wrap our heads around it."

In 2012, a WTO panel ruled that China had breached commitments by offering preferential treatment to a Chinese electronic payments firm. The decision upheld competition complaints from the US which were also supported by the EU.

The 2012 panel said that China should change its "measures" in order to conform to its "obligations" under the WTO's General Agreement on Trade in Services after finding that China had "nullified or impaired benefits accruing to the United States under that agreement."