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China bans two US and Russian cyber-security firms from government contracts

Newly-published list of approved vendors includes only Chinese firms
  • @jjvincent

China continues to forward its policy of cyber-security self-reliance with a new ban on software from American firm Symantec and Moscow-based Kaspersky.

A list of newly approved anti-virus vendors published by state-owned paper the People’s Daily consisted of just five companies, all Chinese, while noting that the government procurement agency "has excluded Symantec & Kaspersky".

Since leaks from former NSA contractor Edward Snowden revealed the extent of surveillance programs carried out by the US and UK the Chinese government has been intent on excluding foreign vendors from government contracts.

In May this year Beijing banned the use of Microsoft’s Windows 8 operating system from government computers and in March state-run broadcaster CCTV aired a documentary that described the iPhone’s location-tracking services as a ‘threat to national security’.  

Recently, state officials also made surprise ‘inspections’ of Microsoft offices across the country - although neither the US technology firm nor Chinese state media gave a reason for the visits.

A spokesman for Russian cyber-security firm Kaspersky told Reuters that the company was “investigating” their ban and “engaging with Chinese authorities” about the matter.

Symantec said in a statement that it was also investigating the report, adding that the company "continues to bid for and win governments projects in China".

The US has not taken this subdued form of cyber warfare lying down, and in May this year hit back against China, accusing five Chinese military officials of spying on US firms.