Chinese President Xi Jinping is scheduled to attend the U.S.-China Internet Industry Forum in Seattle on Wednesday, the second day of his weeklong visit to the United States. There, he’ll meet with executives from Apple, Google, Facebook and others. It could be a tense meeting, as the cost of doing business in China has become higher for U.S. tech companies.
They’re being asked to sign a pledge of compliance that requires them to hand over user data and intellectual property to China’s government.
“I would imagine these tech companies are going to be in a very difficult place,” said Jeremy Goldkorn, founder of Danwei, a research firm that tracks China’s internet. “They’re going to be feeling a lot of pressure to sign this, because they’re going to be worried about being excluded from the Chinese market.”
The pledge is a rational one, said Wu Xinbo, head of the Center for American Studies at Fudan University in Shanghai.
“The reason to ask them to sign this is from the Snowden revelation,” said Wu. “We learned that some U.S. companies are collaborating with U.S. national security agency or other government agencies.”
Data leaked by Edward Snowden alleged that Apple, Google, Facebook and others helped the National Security Agency spy on U.S. citizens. Though the companies denied the claim, Wu said China’s new requirement for these tech companies is to protect Chinese companies and consumers from the prying eyes of foreign intelligence agencies.
Yet Chinese consumers may not care, said Goldkorn — they’re already used to the likelihood of surveillance by their own government.
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