China is believed to be preparing a five-year cybersecurity plan to protect state secrets and data, according to a report from China Daily on Thursday.
The paper cited Chen Wei, a senior official of the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, saying that such a plan would focus on improving security for software used by government departments, state-owned enterprises and financial institutions.
But it could also add to the challenges facing foreign technology firms doing business in China, by prompting government agencies and companies to opt for domestically-made software.
China has already dropped some of the world’s major technology brands from its state-approved lists, as E&T reported in February.
Even though Chen did not provide details of the plan, it seems that steps are being taken to beef up the country’s cybersecurity.
Beijing had recently bolstered legal protection of its information technology, after former NSA contractor-turned-whistleblower Edward Snowden revealed that US intelligence agencies planted code in American tech exports to snoop on overseas targets.
The move could be a shift from foreign brands as a response to revelations of widespread Western cyber-surveillance, but also China’s attempt to shield domestic technology industry from competition.
China's draft national security law, posted online this month, calls for cyberspace 'sovereignty' and has been reviewed to include powers dealing with “harmful moral standards”.
Last month China’s regulator temporarily put on hold bank-technology guidelines that would have effectively replaced foreign tech products with domestic alternatives, after receiving feedback from banks and an outcry from foreign governments and businesses.
And last week soldiers in China’s army were banned from wearing smartwatches and other wearable technology for fear the devices could transmit sensitive data.