Chinese institutions have three years to remove all foreign-made hardware and software and to replace them with locally-sourced alternatives, according to an order from the national Chinese government.
Beijing's policy of moving Chinese government offices away from USA technology is yet another sign of a so-called "decoupling" of supply chains between the two countries and would likely deal a blow to U.S. tech giants HP, Dell and Microsoft. The trade war only accelerated this trend, with the USA government banning Huawei and other Chinese companies from selling technology to us federal agencies. On the same grounds, the White House pressured its allies in Europe and beyond to deny Huawei entrance to their 5G networks. Two employees from cyber security firms told the paper that government clients had described the policy.
The US has also blacklisted other Chinese technology firms implicated in human rights abuses of Muslim minorities in China's Xinjiang region.
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.
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Paul Triolo of consultancy Eurasia Group noted that recent US sanctions have added urgency to the hardware replacement project. This move is the next step in a lengthening trade war between the United States and the Chinese government. "China's 3-5-2 programme is just the tip of the new spear", said Triolo. But government agencies are responsible for only part of it, with private companies unlikely to switch to domestic products voluntarily, one cybersecurity analyst opined. Most software developers make products compatible with US -made operating systems, for example Apple's macOS and Microsoft's Windows, Financial Times suggested.
The situation with PCs also remains unclear - the biggest Chinese producer of computers, Lenovo, is indeed capable of delivering domestically-assembled PCs to the government since it fully acquired IBM's personal computer business in 2005.
The directive was internally called "3-5-2", based on the percentage targets that the Chinese Communist Party imposed on local governments. However, it still uses US-made chips manufactured by Intel and hard drives produced by Samsung, which technically violate the requirements of the reportedly implemented policy.