Beijing orders state offices to replace foreign PCs and software - FT

Marco Green
December 9, 2019

The Chinese Communist Party Central Office has ordered all government services to replace all computers running non-Chinese software and operating systems within the next 3 years, reports AFR.

The move is part of a broader effort to decrease China's reliance on foreign technologies and boost its domestic industry.

The Financial Times' explosive piece adds that analysts over at China Securities estimate Beijing's orders will see 20-30 million devices needing to be replaced.

The government under President Xi Jinping has been trying for years to replace technologies from overseas, and particularly from the United States. The trade war only accelerated this trend, with the US government banning Huawei and other Chinese companies from selling technology to USA federal agencies.

For 2021, the target is 50%, and then 20% in 2022. The news agency said it confirmed the new directive with employees of a private cyber-security firm, who were also aware of the new policy after interacting with their respective government clients. Unlike previous pushes for self-sufficiency, recent United States sanctions have added urgency to the project, said analyst Paul Triolo of consultancy Eurasia Group. But government agencies are responsible for only part of it, with private companies unlikely to switch to domestic products voluntarily, one cybersecurity analyst opined. Government offices already tend to use Lenovo's desktop computers, following the company's acquisition of U.S. giant IBM's personal computer division.

The policy actually started being developed before the current trade war between the USA and China started, first after Edward Snowden's revelations and then with China's cybersecurity law passed in 2017, which further restricted government agencies from buying foreign software and hardware tools.

It could also prove a challenge to determine whether a product is made in China. ARM, whose chips are used by Lenovo and Intel among many other hardware brands was not immediately contactable.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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