On November 4, the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) issued a notice soliciting public comment on China's "policies and influence in the development of international standards for emerging technologies," pursuant to a directive in Section 9414 of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) of 2021 that NIST "enter into an agreement with an appropriate entity to conduct a study and provide recommendations with respect to the effect of policies of the PRC and coordination among industrial entities within the PRC on international bodies engaged in developing and setting international standards for emerging technologies." According to the notice, NIST "is seeking comments to provide information for the study and resulting recommendations."
In the notice, NIST explained that the “China Standards 2035” project, which will build upon Made in China 2025, "will lay out a blueprint for China's government and leading technology companies to set global standards for emerging technologies in areas such as artificial intelligence and advanced communications technology."
In describing its request for information, NIST stated that "[t]he enumerated list of topics below covers the major areas about which NIST seeks comment and is not intended to limit the topics that may be addressed." It further noted, "[c]ommenters may provide responses to other relevant issues, such as the extent to which the PRC partners with foreign governments or multinational corporations to promote technical standards that may advantage PRC companies, entities, or state objectives; the aims of the PRC in international standards setting organizations, including an analysis of Chinese-language sources; the standardization strategy of the PRC, as identified in the stated intentions of the 'China Standards 2035' plan, including how and to what extent that strategy has been implemented and has influenced PRC industry and academic sectors, including in the development of indigenous standards with international implications"; and "[c]ommenters may also offer comments on whether international standards for select emerging technologies ( e.g., electronics, artificial intelligence, the Internet of Things (IoT), blockchain and financial technologies, clean energy technologies, and quantum information technologies) are being designed to promote or favor interests of the PRC, as expressed in the 'Made in China 2025' plan, to the exclusion or disadvantage of other participants or in a way that may not result in the best technological solution."
The notice then sets out the following specific topics about which it is seeking comments:
1. The participation of the People's Republic of China in international standards setting organizations over the previous 10 years, including leadership roles in standards drafting technical committees, and the quality or value of that participation;
2. The effect of the standardization strategy of the People's Republic of China, as identified in the “China Standards 2035” plan on international bodies engaged in developing and setting standards for select emerging technologies, such as advanced communication technologies, or cloud computing and cloud services;
3. Whether international standards for select emerging technologies are being designed to promote interests of the People's Republic of China as expressed in the “Made in China 2025” plan to the exclusion of other participants;
4. How previous practices used by the People's Republic of China while participating in international standards setting organizations may foretell how the People's Republic of China is likely to engage in international standardization activities of critical technologies like artificial intelligence and quantum information science, and what may be the consequences;
5. Recommendations on how the United States can take steps to mitigate the influence of the People's Republic of China and bolster United States public and private sector participation in international standards-setting bodies.
Comments are due by December 6, 2021. The Commerce Department offered some additional background here.