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Earlier this year, the higher-ups in the Chinese government ordered that all foreign hardware and software be replaced with Chinese tech. Citing Chinese tech analysts, TechCrunch and the Financial Times reported, in addition, that the goal is not to simply replace American and European software and operating systems with Chinese-programmed and built software and hardware.

Chinese forbidden city
© GuoZhongHua / Shutterstock.com

Before this most recent technology purge, China had tried to replace western software and hardware in a more limited way, or directly tried to replace things that specifically were seen as security issues. 5 years ago, China attempted to stop using Android and Windows, with the push to stop their use not really taking hold.

This Time For Real

Now that the relationship between the United States and China has deteriorated into a real trade war over the past few years, seeing the countries move from being staunch rivals to real adversaries, this couldn't be any more true in the tech industry. Some moves to ban large hardware providers like ZTE and Huawei have already been taken by the U.S. in American infrastructure. Other miscellaneous policy decisions have increased the enmity between the United States and China.

3-5-2

China has decisive goals to cut out the use of western software and hardware. They aim, reportedly, to replace 30% of the computers and software by the end of 2020, an additional 50% in 2021 and the remaining 20% sometimes in 2022. Tens of millions of devices will need to be replaced, but there is more to it than just replacing computers. Components and software must also be switched for Chinese equivalents – not only the computers themselves. 

Because many companies in China have been preparing for this eventuality for years, there has already been a lot of groundwork laid to speed up the process, with many state-backed enterprises not having been able to use U.S. suppliers for a while now. That being said, Chinese equivalents to products like Windows and Android are nowhere near the same level of functionality and technical maturity. 

Harder When It's Over

The ban may also hamper major efforts like China's push to dominate the AI ecosystem. With Chinese government-backed researchers not able to use the same tools as their counterparts in other parts around the world, the results will most likely not be up to spec. 

China hasn't revealed many specifics on the ban, but they will most likely, piece-by-piece, release information as they begin to set the whole plan into motion. For suppliers, developers and manufacturers in Europe and North America, as well as other parts of the world, the Chinese ban will be a major industry driver for many years as manufacturers learn to navigate markets that are moving apart.