Symantec Corporation (NASDAQ:SYMC), based out of Cupertino, Silicon Valley, have released an email denial of Chinese media reports detailing a ban on the use of their products.
The controversy arose following a review by the Chinese government procurement agency, after which it was reported that Symantec had been excluded from a list of approved anti-virus suppliers.
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The People’s Daily, widely considered the mouthpiece of the ruling Chinese Communist Party, reported that Russian firm Kaspersky has also been excluded from the list.
The list provided by the government procurement agency includes only five Chinese providers: Qihoo 360 Technology Co Ltd (NYSE:QIHU), Beijing Venustech Inc. (SHE:002439), CAJinchen, Beijing Jiangmin New Science and Technology Co Ltd and Beijing Rising Information Technology Co Ltd.
Symantec’s official statement provides clarification
In response to media reports, Symantec stated that “it is important to note that this list is only for certain types of procurement and Symantec products are not banned by the Chinese government. We are investigating this report and will continue to bid for and win governments projects in China”.
Both Symantec and Kaspersky claim that the list only applies to national level projects funded by the central procurement agency, and not regional government or large enterprises.
Some commentators believe that their exclusion will be deeply significant for Symantec’s Chinese operations, as the government contributes 23% of total revenue to the Chinese security market,
However Eric Johnson, dean of the business school at Vanderbilt University, stated that the move is purely symbolic and will have “little meaningful impact” on Symantec.
Explaining Chinese concerns
Chinese suspicions of foreign security providers were raised following claims by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden that the U.S. has hacked into Chinese companies and schools.
Leaks about U.S. secret surveillance programs have led to uproar around the world, and a growing focus on cyber conflicts.
No further information has been provided by the Chinese central government procurement center, who have refused to comment further.