The Chinese delegation to the ISO/IEC JTC/SC06/WG1 conference, a working group under the ISO, said in a written statement on Wednesday that it would withdraw from the ongoing meeting in Frankfurt because of unfair treatment.
A wireless network connection standard is under discussion at the conference. China's submission is its Wireless Authentication and Privacy Infrastructure (WAPI), which is designed to increase the security of the wireless local area network (WLAN) and is competing with the IEEE802.11i to be designated as the international standard.
The statement did not specify what was unfair about the treatment given the Chinese delegation.
However, at an earlier press briefing delegation members said that "international monopoly forces" blocked the WAPI and tried to get the US-dominated IEEE802.11i adopted as the international standard.
Earlier reports indicated that the ISO refused China's proposal to discuss the WAPI and IEEE802.11i proposal together, and delegates to the conference were told to vote on the 802.11i proposal, mainly supported by a number of US organizations and companies.
China tried to implement the WAPI as a national standard on June 1, 2004, to protect WLAN information security, drawing strong complaints from the United States and other countries. The Chinese government decided to postpone the date indefinitely and urged the Chinese working group and international standardization bodies to cooperate.
Zhang Ying, general manager of domestic research house Analysys, said the difficulties the Chinese delegation met reflected strong opposition from some US interests, such as semiconductor giant Intel and WLAN equipment maker Broadcom. Zhang said that there are no clear-cut advantages or disadvantages to either of the proposals in terms of their technologies.
Intel CEO Craig Barrett said last year during a trip to China that his company welcomed an open international standard and suggested that his company would follow the 802.11i proposal if it were adopted. Intel is one of the strongest supporters of WLAN, used in its Centrino processors, and is believed to be the biggest opponent of the WAPI proposal.
Zhang Ying pointed out that another reason for the WAPI's failure was the lack of communication with other competing proposals. Analysys predicted in a report in January that a revised WAPI standard might have a chance to merge with IEEE802.11i to become part of the international standard.
However, Zhang believes the door to the international standard remains open and the only difference might be that the process will drag on longer. He said that US companies might want to use the extended time to make their proposals become the de facto standard in the market.
"The biggest weakness of the WAPI is the lack of industrial support," said Zhang. He believes mass production of WAPI-based products and network construction will start this year.
The size of the Chinese market and industrial support will be two biggest bargaining chips for the homegrown WAPI proposal.
(China Daily February 25, 2005)