Reports are emerging that China has ordered all government offices to end their use of foreign hardware and software within three years. According to published sources, 30 percent of the technology is slated for replacement in 2020, 50 percent in 2021, and 20 percent in 2022. The policy will cause an estimated 20 million to 30 million pieces of foreign equipment to be replaced.
The order reportedly came down from the Chinese Communist party’s Central Office earlier this year, although it has not yet officially been made public. It is unclear just how strict the directive will be. For example, Chinese government offices often use Chinese PCs such as Lenovo, which includes chips from American supplier Intel. One possible path would be to require the companies to make “China” edition products that uses all Chinese components while still allowing the original versions to be sold around the world.
China’s move could been seen as action towards its goal to wean itself off of American technology. While U.S. companies like Google and Facebook have been blocked from operating in China for several years, Microsoft, Dell, and HP still have a large presence in the country, especially in government offices. China is also looking for ways to better control the internet and keep its data within its borders. Eliminating foreign technology would get the country closer to this goal.
The move also comes in the midst of a drawn out trade spat between the U.S. and China. The U.S. has already banned several Chinese technology companies from doing business with the American government. A blacklist, initially announced early last year, was expanded in October to include several of China’s biggest surveillance firms.