The Chinese government has instructed all government offices and public institutions to remove foreign computer equipment and software within the next three years, The Financial Times reported.
The decision by Beijing would certainly impact U.S. firms including Microsoft, Dell and HP, according to the report.
The directive is the first publicly known instruction with specific targets given to Chinese buyers to switch to domestic technology vendors and seems to be a retaliation for measures implemented by the U.S. government which has negatively impacted Chinese companies including Huawei and ZTE.
The report also noted that the move by the Chinese government is part of a broader campaign to increase China’s reliance on home-made technologies.
China issued this instruction earlier this year, with the details only emerging after employees from two cybersecurity firms told The Financial Times their clients had revealed the details.
Analysts at brokerage China Securities reportedly said that between 20 million and 30 million pieces of hardware would have to be replaced as a result of the government order, with around half the substitutions taking place in 2021.
Several of the offices in question rely on Microsoft Windows or Apple’s macOS, which must be replaced with Chinese-developed operating systems.
Washington has been taking actions to ban the use of Chinese technology in government agencies as well as in future domestic 5G contracts.
Last year, the Congress barred U.S. government agencies from using Huawei and ZTE equipment. Huawei sued the United States over that decision, claiming it is unconstitutional.
In May, the Trump administration confirmed that the U.S. Department of Commerce added Huawei to its Entity List, a decision that effectively banned the company from buying parts and components from U.S. companies without U.S. government approval. Under the order, Huawei needs a U.S. government license to buy components from U.S. suppliers.
The Department of Commerce recently confirmed it will start to issue some licenses for U.S. firms to sell products to the Chinese vendor.
Last month, the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) unanimously moved to block the use of Universal Service Fund financial resources to acquire telecommunications gear and services from companies that “pose a national security threat,” and designated Chinese vendors Huawei and ZTE as such companies. The FCC also adopted new rules that network operators which receive USF funds must get rid of gear and stop using services from the covered companies, proposing to establish a reimbursement fund to help defray the costs of doing so. Huawei recently filed a legal claim against the FCC’s decision.
The U.S. government has been urging allied government not to allow Huawei to participate in 5G contracts over security concerns.