China to conduct security audits on US tech companies

Xenophobic US senators are aching to ban Chinese companies like Huawei and ZTE because they think their gear could be used to spy on US citizens. Now, China is auditing American goods for the same reasons.

US lawmakers believe that, since Huawei’s CEO worked for the Chinese military 20 years ago, spying is a sure thing.

Critics think this is not so much about spying, but instead an attempt to protect American companies from Chinese goods, which are often more affordable, especially in crucial emerging markets.

According to Reuters, China’s Ministry of Public Security is planning a tit-for-tat investigation against top US companies over “security issues”.

The ministry names IBM, Oracle and EMC. While the list lacks names like Microsoft and Apple, it seems that China is using revelations by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden as the pretext.

Those three companies were involved in a National Security Agency hack into critical network infrastructure at universities in China and in Hong Kong, according to Snowden leaks.

Speaking to Reuters, a spokesperson from the ministry said that many of the country’s core IT systems are dominated by foreign hardware and software firms, but the Prism scandal implies security problems.

If any trade war does erupt then both sides will feel the hurt. Most US manufacturing is carried out in China and China currently needs to buy a lot of western technology, although there are attempts to curb this.