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U.S. asks China not to enforce cyber security law

GENEVA (Reuters) – The United States has asked China not to implement its new cyber security law over concerns it could damage global trade in services, a U.S. document published by the World Trade Organization showed on Tuesday.

China ushered in a tough new cyber security law in June, following years of fierce debate around the move that many foreign business groups fear will hit their ability to operate in the country.

The law requires local and overseas firms to submit to security checks and store user data within the country.

The United States, in a document submitted for debate at the WTO Services Council, said if China’s new rules enter into full force in their current form, as expected by the end of 2018, they could impact cross-border services supplied through a commercial presence abroad.

“China’s measures would disrupt, deter, and in many cases, prohibit cross-border transfers of information that are routine in the ordinary course of business,” it said.

“The United States has been communicating these concerns directly to high level officials and relevant authorities in China,” the U.S. document said, adding it wanted to raise awareness among WTO members about the potential impact on trade.

“We request that China refrain from issuing or implementing final measures until such concerns are addressed.”

China’s Ambassador to the WTO Zhang Xiangchen spoke on Tuesday at a WTO conference panel on trade protectionism, which he said was an underestimated problem that was causing a crisis at the WTO.

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