Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.


US bars China IT equipment

28 March 2013, 08:32Anne Flaherty

Washington - The US has taken its first real swipe at China following accusations that the Beijing government is behind a widespread and systemic hacking campaign targeting US businesses.

Buried in a spending bill signed by USPresident Barack Obama on Tuesday is a provision that effectively bars much of the US government from buying information technology made by companies linked to the Chinese government.

It is unclear what impact the legislation will have, or whether it will turn out to be a symbolic gesture. The provision only affects certain non-defence government agency budgets between now and 30 September, when the fiscal year ends. It also allows for exceptions if an agency head determines that buying the technology is "in the national interest of the United States".

Still, the rule could upset US allies whose businesses rely on Chinese manufacturers for parts and pave the way for broader, more permanent changes in how the US government buys technology.

"This is a change of direction," said Stuart Baker, a former senior official at the Homeland Security Department now with the legal firm Steptoe and Johnson in Washington. "My guess is we're going to keep going in this direction for a while."

In March, the US computer security firm Mandiant released details on what it said was an aggressive hacking campaign on American businesses by a Chinese military unit. Since then, Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew has used high-level meetings with Beijing officials to press the matter. Beijing has denied the allegations.

Congressional leaders have promised to push comprehensive legislation that would make it easier for industry to share threat data with the government. But those efforts have been bogged down amid concerns that too much of US citizens' private information could end up in the hands of the federal government.

As Congress and privacy advocates debate a way ahead, lawmakers tucked "section 516" into the latest budget resolution, which enables the government to pay for day-to day operations for the rest of the fiscal year.

The provision specifically prohibits the Commerce and Justice departments, Nasa and the National Science Foundation from buying an information technology system that is "produced, manufactured or assembled" by any entity that is "owned, operated or subsidized" by the People's Republic of China.

Cyber espionage

The agencies can only acquire the technology if, in consulting with the FBI, they determine that there is no risk of "cyberespionage or sabotage associated with the acquisition of the system," according to the legislation.

The move might sound like a no-brainer. If US industry and intelligence officials are right, and China is stealing America's corporate secrets at a breathtaking pace, why reward Beijing with lucrative US contracts?

Furthermore, why install technical equipment that could potentially give China a secret back door into federal systems?

But a blanket prohibition on technology made by the Chinese government may be easier said than done. Information systems are often a complicated assembly of parts manufactured by different companies around the globe. And investigating where each part came from, and if that part is made by a company that could have ties to the Chinese government could be difficult.

Depending on how the Obama administration interprets the law, Baker said it could cause problems for the US with the World Trade Organisation, whose members include US allies like Germany and Britain that might rely on Chinese technology to build computers or handsets.

But in the end, Baker says it could make the US government safer and wiser.

"We do have to worry about buying equipment from companies that may not have our best interests at heart," he said.



Read News24’s Comments Policy

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Read more from our Users

Nigeria @ 56: Words to my green f...

A leader’s job is not to dictate, but rather to be respected, admired and be a trustee, of the land we love, with so much potential, a land which should be freer than free. Its still a long way to fufilling our destiny! Read more...

Submitted by
Isaac Asabor263
Recession: An opportunity for Nig...

The recession should be seen as an opportunity for the country’s promotion as long as we all collectively conduct ourselves in a patriotic manner, writes Isaac Asabor.  Read more...

Submitted by
Black and White

We want to imitate the whites in everything because we are ignorant of our inherent originality and content. We spend all our Naira to acquire his inventions because we so oblivious of our natural endowments that we allow him have it for free. Read more...

Submitted by
Nate Nat
Adamawa State University Mubi: A ...

ADSU integrity forum has accused the Sunday Joshua Wugira, a lawyer, of adopting unorthodox tactics by abusing his privilege by attacking the integrity of ADSU Vice Chancellor Dr. Moses Zira Zaruwa, writes a News24 reader. Read more...

Submitted by
Abdulsalam Jubril
My Country Nigeria (Part One)

Poetry by Abdulsalam Jubril.

Submitted by
Abdulsalam Jubril
Recession, dearth in leadership a...

Every leader has the opportunity to become great and making himself immortal in the lives and hearts of people for generations to come. Will Mr. President seize this opportunity?, questions Abdulsalam Jubril. Read more...