A slew of US tech companies have been dropped from China’s Ministry of Finance’s approved government procurement list, including Apple, McAfee, Citrix Systems and Cisco Systems, Reuters reported.
The publication has had the opportunity to check out the document, and says that Cisco is the biggest loser in this recent restructuring, since an earlier version included 60 of its products, and now none are present.
“The number of approved foreign tech brands fell by a third, while less than half of those with security-related products survived the cull,” noted Reuter’s Paul Carsten.
But the Central Government Procurement Center’s (CGPC) list hasn’t been shortened – in fact, the number of approved products jumped by over 2,000 in the last few years, reaching nearly 5,000. But most of these new additions have been from Chinese manufacturers.
In August last year, Symantec and Kaspersky Lab products have been removed from the list, and the AV software that remained on it was the one developed by Qihoo 360, Venustech, CAJinchen, Beijing Jiangmin and Rising – all China-based companies.
Earlier still, in May, China has announced that it has banned the use of Windows 8 on government computers, but Microsoft still has a foothold on the list – possibly until the Chinese come up with a quality alternative OS based on Linux on which they have been working on.
This latest edit is likely partially due to the revelations stemming from the NSA documents exfiltrated by Edward Snowden. Among other things, they showed that the NSA has apparently been planting backdoors in American-made network devices destined for the foreign market.
Another reason might be retaliation for the fact that Chinese-based manufacturers such as Huawei and ZTE have been branded as suspicious by the US House Intelligence Committee, who urged US companies to avoid using their devices.
But ultimately, part of the reason might also be China’s decision to push authorities and companies towards buying local technology, in order to support the domestic tech industry.
While it’s common knowledge that China’s computer and network tech is still inferior to foreign products, China might be using these changes to force the companies to close the quality gap in the long run.
As a reminder, Central Government Procurement Center’s (CGPC) list applies only to national-level institutions, and does not prohibit regional governments, state-owned enterprises or the military from using products that are not on it.