When Reuters reported exclusively last Wednesday (Feb. 25) that China would no longer allow federal agencies and departments to procure products from several major corporations – including Apple and Cisco – questions as to the motivation behind this decision emerged.
According to reports, it is unclear whether the move was for security purposes, or for protectionism purposes. In Reuters’ report, Chinese authorities say the decision was motivated by security following Edward Snowden’s revelations about the National Security Agency global surveillance program.
“The Snowden incident,” said Tu Xinquan, associate director of the China Institute of WTO Studies at the University of International Business and Economics in Beijing, “it’s become a real concern, especially for top leaders.”
But the report also gained insight from Western companies claiming China is instead forcing protectionist policies to unfairly promote domestic business.
According to Tech In Asia’s Paul Bischoff, the motivation most likely comes from protectionist intentions.
“China has used similar tactics before,” he wrote, “and they’ve proven effective.”
According to reports, China has been reducing its dependence on foreign corporations, the largest of which can be hit hardest from these political tactics because they depend more on government contracts than smaller entities.
Additionally, stocks from Chinese domestic firms spike each time the media reports on Snowden’s security breaches or other cybersecurity scandals.
“Pushing out western firms is a proven strategy for bolstering domestic ones, and seems to me to be China’s real motivation, rather than the much-flaunted cybersecurity argument” said Bischoff, adding that this would not be the first time foreign competition was eliminated from China’s market.
Facebook, Google and Twitter have all been largely censored in the nation. In doing so, the government claimed it was protecting its citizens from harmful content and simultaneously offering Chinese alternatives in the form of Weibo and Baidu, for example.