Feeds

China tech wriggling may snag PNTR

Silicon Valley needn't pop the Champagne corks just yet

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Top three mobile application threats

The triumph of hope over experience was again enacted in Washington Tuesday evening, as US President Bill Clinton signed a bill granting permanent normal trade relations (PNTR) to China during a ceremony on the White House South Lawn.

US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and a handful of Congressional boosters took turns introducing the Prez, gushing with enthusiasm over spectacular fantasies of vast commercial jackpots, such as those with which the West has tantalized itself obsessively, and fruitlessly, for the past two centuries.

Interestingly, it was the President who sounded a bit gloomy, saying that he "ought to point out that our work's not over when I sign the bill. For China must still complete its [World Trade Organisation (WTO)] accession negotiations, and live up to the agreements it has negotiated with us and our partners, before it can join."

"Opening trade with China will not, in and of itself, lead China to make all the choices we believe it should," the President observed.

He was perhaps recalling that as he signed the bill, he had also dispatched US Trade Representative (USTR) Charlene Barshefsky to Beijing, on a mission to persuade the Chinese to honour a number of promises on which PNTR and WTO membership depend.

At issue are recent Chinese efforts to limit foreign investment in Internet and telecomms ventures, and several items related to manufacturing and agriculture.

The US tech sector has been brightly enthusiastic about PNTR, anticipating with glee the imminent delivery of a vast market. "If the world is rapidly becoming a digital planet, China is its new frontier," Information Technology Association of America (ITAA) President Harris Miller has said.

But it will take a bit more than cheerful incantations to conquer the everlasting Chinese inclinations towards exploitation, political corruption and outright mercantilism. Such optimism would be fine if the Chinese government could be trusted to honour the agreements they make; but the basic negotiating tactic is to offer a concession calculated to extract a reciprocal concession from a foreign opponent, and then cancel the original offer once the opponent has made a commitment based upon it.

Westerners, the Chinese have long known, have a bizarre tendency to follow written agreements which they've signed.

It's quite possible that a bit of tough talk from the USTR will result in another written assurance from Beijing on these issues, which China can violate later, after PNTR takes effect and it's been admitted to the WTO. Undoubtedly the Chinese are calculating that once admitted, they can't be forced to follow the rules, as international big-business lobbying will provide an adequate shelter from serious trade retaliation.

And of course, even after WTO membership is settled, there still remains a bewildering maze of regulatory back channels with which the Chinese government can thwart anything threatening to resemble free trade. So we'll just wait and watch a bit, before we launch our consumer electronics distribution operation and branded ISP in Shanghai.... ®

Top three mobile application threats

More from The Register

next story
Sorry London, Europe's top tech city is Munich
New 'Atlas of ICT Activity' finds innovation isn't happening at Silicon Roundabout
MtGox chief Karpelès refuses to come to US for g-men's grilling
Bitcoin baron says he needs another lawyer for FinCEN chat
Dropbox defends fantastically badly timed Condoleezza Rice appointment
'Nothing is going to change with Dr. Rice's appointment,' file sharer promises
Audio fans, prepare yourself for the Second Coming ... of Blu-ray
High Fidelity Pure Audio – is this what your ears have been waiting for?
Did a date calculation bug just cost hard-up Co-op Bank £110m?
And just when Brit banking org needs £400m to stay afloat
Zucker punched: Google gobbles Facebook-wooed Titan Aerospace
Up, up and away in my beautiful balloon flying broadband-bot
Apple DOMINATES the Valley, rakes in more profit than Google, HP, Intel, Cisco COMBINED
Cook & Co. also pay more taxes than those four worthies PLUS eBay and Oracle
prev story

Whitepapers

Designing a defence for mobile apps
In this whitepaper learn the various considerations for defending mobile applications; from the mobile application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies needed to properly assess mobile applications risk.
3 Big data security analytics techniques
Applying these Big Data security analytics techniques can help you make your business safer by detecting attacks early, before significant damage is done.
Five 3D headsets to be won!
We were so impressed by the Durovis Dive headset we’ve asked the company to give some away to Reg readers.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Securing web applications made simple and scalable
In this whitepaper learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.