China, quoted by the Financial Times as “the world’s largest exporter of IT goods,” is halting imports of tech goods from U.S. companies IBM, Hewlett-Packard, and Cisco after revelations of National Security Agency spying tactics. (RELATED: NSA And FBI Targeted Muslim-American Leaders Under Terrorist Surveillance Authority)
According to the Times, Beijing is banning Microsoft Windows 8 from government computers “while existing users are reportedly being encouraged to switch to a domestic Linux-based operating system.”
Linux, a competitor with Microsoft, allows other companies to constantly develop and improve its software, giving it the definition of an “open” operating system. This means Chinese developers can customize a Linux operating system for specific Chinese usage.
Suspicious of foul play, China has a new plan to diligently review and scrutinize all imported high-tech goods. This is after Chinese government shut down the Google website in China in June. The reason for China’s tech-paranoia? U.S. National Security Agency. When whistle-blower Edward Snowden revealed the extent of NSA surveillance tactics — specifically via Google search results — China panicked.
Because China knows the NSA is so involved in the cyber world, China is retreating from high-tech products exported by the U.S. to avoid unwanted wiretapping. (RELATED: So What Is The NSA ALLOWED To Do?)
“This is just part of the business climate here. It can get so political at the drop of a hat,” a U.S. business consultant in Beijing told the Financial Times.
Political or not, the question is whether or not local Chinese technology can “fill the gap,” said the Times. An attempt to localize the tech industry may or may not improve Chinese economy, but only if they can successfully pull it off. Even though China leads the world in tech exports, high-end technology has always been a strength of the U.S.
If China is going to freak out about using U.S. websites like Google and U.S. high-end tech products, then China is going to have to come up with its own set of search engines and build up its tech industry. Since so many Chinese already use Google, transforming this global industry into a purely local one is going to be rather difficult.