China reportedly ratcheted up an ongoing trade spat with the US, with plans to ban the use of Intel and AMD chips as well as Microsoft’s operating system from government computers and servers, as it pushes use of local hardware and software. 

The Financial Times (FT) reported the new measures, which also cover database software from non-Chinese companies, aim to phase out the use of imported components, as China moves to ramp up local production to reduce the country’s reliance on overseas markets.

Government agencies across much of the country were advised to ensure the use of “safe and reliable processors and operating systems” when procuring PCs and servers, FT wrote.

Radio Free Mobile founder Richard Windsor wrote today (25 March) that with Huawei and China’s chip industry struggling to produce viable alternatives to power data centres, the country’s tech sector may take another hit from the move.

Windsor added Nvidia wasn’t mentioned as a target in the FT piece, highlighting that for AI China is far from being able to replace it. He warned that while China is capable of making advanced chips and has proved successful at using them for publicity purposes, using them to support a completely domestic technology industry “is a fantasy”.

In December, government agencies across eight provinces told employees to avoid using foreign handsets at work, Bloomberg reported.

Following reports in September China banned the use of iPhones for some official business, a Foreign Ministry representative insisted the government did not restrict the use of non-Chinese branded smartphones.

Last week, the US government looked to impose new restrictions against six Chinese chipmakers linked to the production of chips for Huawei, and a Commerce Department investigation suggested Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corporation “potentially” violated its controls in manufacturing a high-end processor for the company.

In October 2023, the US moved to impose tougher export restrictions on the sale of AI chips to China from companies such as Nvidia.