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Why Is China Building Its Own OS?

No it’s not because Windows 8 is terrible

Michael Cruickshank
Why Is China Building Its Own OS?© 2018 Flickr - Mark Tollerman

China is not happy with US government spying, and it is US tech companies which are ultimately paying the price for their alleged collaboration. First, China banned the use of the Windows 8 operating system for new government offices, then Apple mobile devices were again targeted in recent weeks with similar restrictions. The purported reasoning behind these moves is that the software used by these companies breaches privacy to an unnecessary extent, however most serious commentators believe the Chinese government fears NSA backdoors are being built into the software.

Now in a further move designed to make themselves independent of “foreign” tech companies, China has announced plans to build their own Chinese operating system. In a statement on Chinese state press service Xinhua, a government spokesperson explained that China is aiming to not just create an operating system capable of being used on desktop computers, but also on mobile devices as well.

The Chinese government wants to completely eliminate foreign operating systems from Chinese desktop computers within 2 years

The project itself has a very ambitious timeframe. The Chinese government believes it is possible to completely eliminate foreign operating systems from Chinese desktop computers within 2 years, and from mobile devices within 3-5 years. These projections seem to be all the more unbelievable when you consider that Xinhua itself admits that the project is already facing problems due to the conflict priorities of different developer teams.

This being said, the Chinese government does have good reasons to be concerned of a US software monopoly. Revelations by Edward Snowden have shown them that many US tech companies have been more than willing to collaborate with security agencies like the NSA in order to facilitate spying on other countries, presumable also including China. This comes as a part of an escalating race between the two nations for cyber-supremacy, with both nations accusing each other of industrial, political and military espionage.

Regardless, for the sake of computer users in China, let’s hope their government can do a better job than Microsoft did with with Vista or Windows 8…

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