China Trying To Bring WAPI Back Yet Again
from the if-at-first-you-don't-succeed dept
For a few years now, China has been trying to push its own, incompatible version of WiFi, called WAPI. The Chinese claim that WiFi isn't secure enough, and they've expressed particular concern that the US government could break the 128-bit encryption used in the 802.11i standard -- while ignoring widely held concerns that WAPI contains backdoors for the Chinese government (though perhaps since they don't censor the internet, there's nothing to worry about). WAPI caused quite an international flap when it was announced, because it would have forced foreign companies to partner with a Chinese vendor and license the technology if they wanted to sell their WiFi equipment in the country. Although China eventually backed down, it's brought WAPI up again several times, and -- lo and behold -- it's done it again. This time, the 2008 summer Olympics in Beijing could provide a "need" for WAPI, because apparently "media users were skeptical about the safety of the current WLAN technology". Not that we'd doubt the veracity of claims made by the People's Daily, but given the widespread use of WiFi by media outlets throughout the world, it wouldn't appear that they're overly concerned about its security. China's really trying to take advantage of the Beijing Olympics to show off its technological prowess, particularly in wireless. It's been saying for some time that its 3G mobile networks will be up and running in time for the games, but it's continually pushed back (for what's going on four years) the government approvals necessary to start building and operating them, because its homegrown TD-SCDMA standard hasn't been ready. By holding back the country's mobile networks this way, and potentially forcing foreign visitors to buy new WAPI-compatible equipment to use WiFi at the Olympics, China's not demonstrating its technological ability; it's demonstrating that protectionism is still the order of the day.