China Moving to Ban Foreign Technologies From Government Operation

Brands like Dell, HP, and Microsoft have long used Chinese technology in their products.  You may recall that the Trump administration banned all US companies from doing any business with Chinese telecom company Huawei, for example, and this year Google, Intel, and Qualcomm have all announced their freezing of cooperation with that company.

But it seems that China is also making a major shift in its international policy, ordering that all foreign computer equipment and software should be removed from all government offices and national public institutions.  That includes, of course, equipment made in and distributed from the United States.

This new government directive, which will be implemented across the next three years, is most likely counteractive to the recent US policies aimed at limiting Chinese technology in US products.  China’s Communist Part calls the policy “3-5-2,” which references a breakdown of the pace by which they means to replace US technology:  30 percent in 2020, 50 percent in 2021, and another 20 percent in 2022 (for a total of 100 percent, of course).  Analysts in China estimate between 20 and 30 million pieces of foreign equipment would need to be replaced in China to satisfy this directive.

Now, this is not entirely unique or new. China had, at one point, ordered purges of western software, but these earlier directives were limited, often related to specific security issues.  You might also recall an effort from five years ago that attempted to wean China off Android and Windows devices; ultimately, they were unable to accomplish this. 

The latest maneuver, though, could prove to be far more complicated and difficult.  The United States and China have had a long-standing relationship and the most recent trade-off has put undue strain on that relationship.  And the tech world has probably had to bear the brunt of that strain, transforming earnest rivals and sometimes collaborators into near-bitter adversaries.  

Indeed the “3-5-2” plan, while ambitious, is not exactly simple.  After all, you can’t just trade out an HP machine for one made in China.  You must also replace the software used to function that hardware; and this software is made in both the United States and Europe.  The plan remains confidential, so there are few other details but regardless of what we know now, we can be certain that it will have a profound impact on the technology we use, for many years to come. 

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