back to article US bill prohibits state use of tech linked to Chinese government

In one of the first clear signs of a tougher stance on China, a new US spending bill has banned government agencies from buying any technology from companies thought to be “owned, operated or subsidised” by the People’s Republic. The Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act of 2013, signed by president Obama on …


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  1. LarsG

    All of it?

    But almost tech has parts made in China, assembled in China supplied by china, raw materials from China!

    If this isn't Protectionism then I will eat my sock.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: All of it?

      By inference pretty much every business in China must have connections to or are overseen by the Government and businesses that have goods made in China must have permissions from the Government.

      Does that mean that even Apple and Dell will find itself on the hit list!


      1. Anonymous Dutch Coward
        Big Brother

        Madness or PR/propaganda?

        Might be worth looking at the exemptions a bit more: when the FBI says it's ok, it's ok, etc. The added advantage is that it provides nice govenment workplaces for the guys who get to rubberst... ehm process those exemption requests.

        I'm sure those loopholes are not unintentional and that a huge amount of kit will suddenly be exempt...

      2. Ole Juul

        Re: All of it?

        By inference pretty much every business in China must have connections to or are overseen by the Government and businesses that have goods made in China must have permissions from the Government.

        In fact, I'm not entirely sure how this would be significantly different here, or in any other country. Every company needs permits and has economic connections to their government etc. Are we to assume that the US government hopes to do an overnight revival of home industry, or is the state planning to do without tech for a while?

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: All of it?

      Or it could be in response to a discovery that the network drivers for a certain OEM was shadowing all traffic to an IP address in China several years ago. And that's just the one I heard about. I'm sure that it's been found with other OEMs

      Anon because I'm not sure I'm legally able to share that

      1. Tom 38

        Re: All of it?

        the network drivers for a certain OEM was shadowing all traffic to an IP address in China several years ago. And that's just the one I heard about. I'm sure that it's been found with other OEMs

        Citation or GTFO. Yellow peril is so 19th century.

        1. Don Jefe

          Re: All of it?

          So Tom tell us what fashion magazine you follow so we'll all know what's in for the Autumn season.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Nice backdoor..

      IMHO, what is really happening here is the creation of a procurement control backdoor.

      You won't be able to use kit unless it's approved, and whoever approves it can set conditions, such as helpful "diagnostic" modes. I would make it possible to properly implement such an idea as the Clipper chip.

      I understand the reasons, but the proposed implementation seems to be almost designed to do away with transparency.

  2. Suricou Raven

    Motherlode, not motherload. Lode, as in lode of ore. It's a mining term.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Protectionism or xenophobia?

    1. Yes Me Silver badge

      Re: Protectionism or xenophobia?

      Both. Also autopedicution.

      1. Mark 110

        Re: Protectionism or xenophobia?

        "autopedicution" - apparently thats not a word. I wonder what you meant?

      2. Magani

        Re: Protectionism or xenophobia?

        Autopedicution - The ability to cut one's own toenails?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Protectionism or xenophobia?

          You, sir, owe me a new keyboard. Good one !

        2. Yes Me Silver badge

          Re: Protectionism or xenophobia?

          Shooting oneself in the foot

        3. cortland

          Re: Protectionism or xenophobia?

          Toe good!

  4. JimC

    There are also strategic considerations...

    As history demonstrates, if you want to fight a war you had better be able to source the materials of war. What's more if you want to have any economy left after the war you had better have had sufficient production capability to maintain all your international trade as well as maintain the war production.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: There are also strategic considerations...

      A a fair point but as China and the USA can't go to war as their economies are so interconnected, and if they did go into a full shooting war you can place your bottom dollar on one side using nuclear weapons and ending the whole debate about economies anyway. Nowadays no nation can do everything itself efficiently, if the US and China did go to war then the USA could rather quickly draft all the required people to do all the necessary work to make up for the loss, it would just lead to massive inflation, particularly when combined with the problems that all that Chinese money would dry up.

      Simply put only an idiot would go to war in that state, but then the Americans have proved themselves blind to reality and you can never trust that a crazy person wont end up being picked to be in charge of China either.

      1. JimC

        Re: China and the USA can't go to war as their economies are so interconnected

        You're being rather simplistic.

        Its a question of not being able to fight a war with anyone your key suppliers are friendly with. For the US NK is an obvious example.

        As another it could be argued that a key factor in the outcome of the Falklands war was that the US did supply the UK with more Sidewinder missiles, but France wouldn't supply Argentina with any more Exocets.

  5. Dire Criti¢

    USA, Land of the Slightly Free...

    ...and very, very paranoid!

    1. jonathanb Silver badge

      Re: USA, Land of the Slightly Free...

      Who benefits from this? Their main competitor is Cisco, an American company, and I suppose Erricson from Sweden.

  6. Neil Barnes Silver badge

    "thought to be"?

    By whom?

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    "companies thought to be “owned, operated or subsidised” by the People’s Republic"

    Yes, luckily the slave labour force in China, created by the Chinese State is able to manufacture your hi-tech shit for a fraction of what it could be made elsewhere for.

    So pretty much all of it is subsidised by the lucky fortune that the world's most populace country lives under such conditions.

    Isn't that the foundation of modern Amerika?

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Re: Subsidised?

      Its also the foundation of past America - our great great grandparents were the child laborers in US factories back when the US was an upstart trying to dethrone the mighty British empire, who themselves utilized child labor even earlier to get its industrial base to where it was.

      The Chinese of today may have it much worse than the workers in the west do today, but they have it far far better than their US or British forebears do. There was no one to speak for them back then, while today we have Reg readers who are up in arms while sitting comfortably in their chairs doing fuck all about the actual problem, but tell themselves they are being socially conscious because they're "boycotting" certain companies and products they had already decided they weren't going to buy anyway.

  8. K

    Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act of 2013

    "Sponsored by Cisco... proudly rimming your eth2"

  9. Anonymous Coward

    China don't play by the rules, so the US has decided to go down the same route, no surprise really. China are astonishingly guilty of protectionism over the years, they don't allow any fair competition in their country against domestic providers why should any of us do the same? Even further than that, most domestic Chinese web companies steal the source code from other companies, (See Google/Baidu, Ebay/Alibaba, Facebook/Xiaonei, RenRenWang, etc), rebrand it, then wait for the cash to come flooding in as the Government bans the 'superior' foreign equivalent. This doesn't just happen in the tech industry, ever heard of the Danone/Wahaha debacle?

    China set the precedent for not following the rules of the free market, they shouldn't complain now they are on the receiving end.

    1. ElReg!comments!Pierre

      @murph RE: receivind end

      > [China] shouldn't complain now they are on the receiving end.

      The receiving end of what? Of being sent back to the stone age as suddently gov agencies need to communicate via smoke signals, store data on engraved stone tablets and perform rocket launch calculations on an abbacus (although... that's been invented by the Chinese, wonder if they put a backdoor in that)?

      Or on the receiving end of having to have all tech purchases approved by the FBI as it turns out that litterally EVERYTHING has parts made by a firm that doesn't pass the purity test?

      To me the US state agencies concerned, not China, appear firmly anchored on the receiving end of this nonsense.

  10. Gordon Pryra

    China are not complaining

    After all, they don't give a monkeys, all the kit from the American Firms is made in China anyway. If they wanted to attack the US it would be through that stuff anyway. Why would they put back doors on equipment with their name on it?

    All Cisco kit is made in China, Mexico closed down last year and in a couple of years time they will be made in Russia as well.

    Any of those 3 places "safe"?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: China are not complaining

      China 'not complaining'? Are you sure about that? Huawei don't seem to be too happy about the blanket ban on their telecoms kit in the US. China have been whingeing to the WTO for years about US protectionism, which makes the screeching hysterical commentary of some of the El Reg readership all the more hilarious, as China are the worst offenders!

      Xenophobia, my arse!

  11. This post has been deleted by its author

  12. Paul Smith


    "The House of Representatives Committee reported several times in its findings that it was unable to get the level of information required from Huawei and ZTE to allay..."

    The information the Committe was looking for was proof that that Huawei and ZTE were instruments of Chinese government policy. The reason they failed to get it was that no such proof exists.

    And when you get anonymous cowards repeating seemingly believable but ridiculus nonsense like Chinese kit that redirects copies of IP traffic to China, well duh? 1) It is simply not practical as anyone who ever has to cable a network will tell you. Traffic goes through pipes and someone has to pay from them, you do not double your traffic without someone noticing. 2) A scandal like that would not be a secret, it would be used by every competitor trying to get into the same markets, but only if it could be prooved.

  13. James Micallef Silver badge


    "only pertains to non-defence government spending "

    So presumably the US army is free to buy Chinese kit?

  14. James Micallef Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    Simple win for China

    Take a 1% shareholding in every IT company in China, and watch as US government implodes through lack of equipment

  15. Jim O'Reilly

    China makes motherboards

    Chinese ODMs account for around 95 percent of motherboards used in US computers. With BIOS, BMC and other code already loaded, these are potentially vehicles for hacking.

    I hope the ACT addresses that issue properly.

  16. Alan Denman

    USA = North Korea in 10 years time

    If you look a cooperative trade deals its the USA that looks headed into its own arse.

    Even in their own back yard its Brazil now choosing to look to China.

    Yes, NK is stretching it a bit far but the cent will certainly drops.

  17. Lghost

    ishiny stuff is included in the ban ?

    appl is not going to be pleased..

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Security is a red herring

    Telcos/ ISPs are dropping other supplier equipment (mostly Radio but later MPLS PE) and migrating to Huawei gear.

    Not a problem in and of itself. Mirroring traffic to off-net servers would be easily identified. End of Huawei.

    Not much interest in your standard ISP anyway for the customer base. Banks have their own fibre, for example and Intranet traffic site-to-site can be trivially encrypted over an MPLS L3VPN.

    The more worrying concern is where Huawei have the network management contract for an ISP/ Tier-1/2 Telco. In this case they have the network diagrams and design - all of which can disappear back to China with zero effort.

    Additionally, Huawei tend to send a plane-load of software engineers on-site in Europe to fix bugs (Huawei code is not hugely sophisticated). Huawei internal product support documentation is largely in Chinese.

    Huawei engineers in the West have real support issues with their own companies' equipment. It's entirely possible that they are somewhat protectionist about their secrets and employing engineers in the west is only for escalation purposes.

    It's also possible that they just aren't geared up for local support in the west, yet.

    The real problem for me is whether they are subsidised unfairly by the government in PRC to get a foot-hold in large-scale Radio and IP/MPLS networks.

    I believe that the US have already been offered the source code for analysis, so this is probably more about trade transparency than any supposed - paranoid - security leaks.

  19. Hoe

    Bad China...

    Not like the US would ever hack someone or take law into their own hands... oh wait!

  20. cortland

    Actually, this has

    wider implications. See

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