Is China More Progressive Than Massachusetts?

China's Open Source Software Promotion Union says that it will be introducing "its own Linux standard" next year - and the association representing traditional software vendors in China doesn't like it. Only in the Massachusetts government are people still thinking that way today in these parts.



There may be many things that are different between China and the West, but apparently the attitude of traditional software interests to open source software is proving to be quite similar — it’s just lagging American attitudes by a few years, with one notable exception, on which more below), a non-profit trade association, is reporting today that Lu Shouqun, the Chair of the China Open Source Software Promotion Union (OSS), expects that China will launch its own “Linux standard” in 2006. The standard is currently in draft form and is under governmental review. You can read the full story at (that is, if you can read Mandarin). represents the interests of five major technology associations (with a total of over 6,000 corporate members), as well as several hundred individual companies with extensive interests in China. Each week, it summarizes significant technology news in a private email blast to its “members and friends.” The service is particularly helpful, given that it not only locates non-English technology language news from China and summarizes it, but provides context as well.

In this case, also reports that OSS and the China Software Industry Association (CSIA) hold “opposite attitudes on Linux.” In August, the CSIA apparently petitioned the Chinese government to give up what the CSIA regarded as an “excessive preference” for Linux, to the detriment of indigenous software companies, including (it claimed) even local Linux developers, who would be victimized by falling profit margins.

Lu Shouqun and OSS have responded instead that the Linux industry in China is mature and generating profits in much the same way that Western IT companies do — by providing added services in addition to inexpensive distributions. OSS is therefore pushing the government to continue to promote Linux.

Now, how familiar does that sound? Not so long ago, you could have changed the names, substituting open source projects and advocates, on the one hand, and traditional software companies and their advocates on the other.

Of course, here in Massachusetts, you don’t have to look that far back at all; all you have to do is hang out in hearing rooms and in the Senate, and you’ll be told that the adoption of ODF will be the death of the local software industry.

Strange to say, last summer all of the local high tech trade associations came out in favor of ODF. Only some of the powers that be in Massachusetts, apparently, are still living in the past — or at least recycling yesterday’s FUD.

Sigh. It looks like China is going to clean our clock again.

subscribe to the free Consortium Standards Bulletin