The United States may no longer be the only one to express its mistrust of foreign technologies and software openly. In an official directive to be published, the Chinese government would gradually purge its administration of non-Chinese computers and software. The operation could start as early as next year.

A major upheaval is in sight within the Chinese administration and its IT equipment. A formal directive drafted last spring and left pending, for the time being, sets out a plan to remove foreign computers and software. This measure, which would primarily serve as a response to the US sanctions against Huawei and ZTE, banned from US soil and the Trump administration, could be implemented as early as next year.

In three years, all foreign hardware and software could be eradicated, following the following replacement rates: 30% in 2020, 50% in 2021, and 20% in 2022.

Who (and what) will replace American services?

To replace foreign equipment, China could use national brands, such as the giant Lenovo, which is very well positioned in the computer sector dedicated to the world of offices, companies, or administrations. Huawei, which is developing desktop computers with ARM architecture, could also be a potential avenue for the Chinese government to explore.

Software replacement, on the other hand, is much more problematic. Lenovo (to name but a few) depends on Windows and Linux for most of its computers. China should, therefore, find a way to develop its operating system as soon as possible to equip its administration. According to several media reports, the development of a Chinese OS has been under consideration for several months and more or less coincided with the creation of the “3-5-2” directive – nicknamed after the replacement rates mentioned above. The first and foremost idea would be to equip the army (which currently uses Windows) with it to eliminate any risk of American espionage.

Microsoft, Dell, and HP on the front line

If this directive were to be applied, American brands would be the first to be impacted by being excluded from a very lucrative market, explains internation medias. No longer being able to provide hardware or software equipment to the Chinese authorities means a loss of 150 billion in revenue for Dell, HP, or Microsoft, the leading players involved. This prospect is all the more frustrating as American groups have often had to make significant investments to establish themselves in the unique market of China, especially when it comes to equipping local administrations.

For example, in 2017, Microsoft had developed a particular version of Windows 10 called “Windows 10 China Government Edition”. In particular, the latter ignored some of the OS’s features, such as synchronization on OneDrive, Microsoft’s Cloud, while leaving the Chinese authorities to use their encryption algorithms on the system. Developments that, three years later, could be wiped off the map.