Beijing plans to junk most of its foreign-made technology and switch to homegrown hardware and software, Bloomberg reports:
China is aiming to purge most foreign technology from banks, the military, state-owned enterprises and key government agencies by 2020, stepping up efforts to shift to Chinese suppliers, according to people familiar with the effort. […]Foreign suppliers may be able to avoid replacement if they share their core technology or give China’s security inspectors access to their products, the people said. The technology may then be seen as safe and controllable, they said.China ranks second behind the U.S. in technology spending, with outlays rising 8.1 percent to $182 billion last year, according to research firm IDC. The U.S. spent $656 billion, a 4.2 percent increase over 2012.The push to develop local suppliers comes as Chinese regulators have pursued anti-trust probes against western companies, including Microsoft and Qualcomm Inc. Recent months have seen Microsoft’s China offices raided, Windows 8 banned from government computers and Apple Inc. iPads excluded from procurement lists.
As Bloomberg notes, this move is also a reaction to the Snowden revelations, which disclosed that Western technology firms are frequently complicit in U.S. spying efforts. (Microsoft, for example, was revealed to have accommodated NSA requests).China is not the first or only country to consider policy measures for minimizing the information security risk of using foreign technology for key state functions—Russia, for example, has made noises about this too. But unlike Russia, China may actually have the capacity to follow through with it, as the example of telecom giant Huawei demonstrates. It might be expensive and it won’t happen overnight, but Beijing has decided that further developing its own high-tech sector is worth the price—not only to avoid American eyes, but also for the spillover benefits it will have for China’s military and industrial growth.