The central government of China has dropped a number of top technology companies from the United States, including Apple and Cisco, from its list of products approved for purchases by the state, amidst a growing rift about cyber space amongst the two countries.
The move follows revelations by Edward Snowden about a huge cyber-espionage program of the U.S. codenamed Prism. It also comes as China is bolstering energetically what it is calling its cyber-sovereignty.
It can be seen as well as part of the wider cyber war taking place between the U.S. and China, which has become a tit for tat response to the accusations by the U.S. government that the army in China was spying on companies in the U.S. the accusations ended a dialogue about issues of the Internet between the countries.
There was likely a protectionism element to the move by China, as in China government procurement tends to often times favor companies that are local and can be seen as supporting the technology sector of China.
An analysis done by an international news agency of the Procurement Center of the Chinese central government showed that the biggest casualty was Cisco Systems the U.S. maker of network equipment, which as of 2012 had 60 products on the list and by the end of 2014 had zero.
Other businesses that were dropped included Intel’s McAfee, Apple and Citrix a software company. Dell and Hewlett-Packard had their products still listed.
One researcher for the Ministry of Commerce said the biggest reason for foreign brands being dropped was national security. It is the effect of Prism that Snowden revealed, said the researcher.
However, the Commerce ministry researcher said Apple might have suffered as well because products it makes are more expensive than equivalents made in China.
The list consists of regular spending by the central government of China. It does not bind local government, the military or state owned businesses, which have their own system for procurement.
Snowden revealed during 2013 the existence of a global program of cyber surveillance run by the U.S. National Security Agency and had the cooperation of government in Europe and telecom companies.