China to debut its own OS amid cybersecurity concerns

China’s domestically developed operating system could be ready by October, according to the government-run Xinhua news agency.

Looking to compete with Google, Apple and Microsoft, the OS will first debut on desktop devices and eventually be implemented on mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets. Chinese officials in charge of the development alliance for the OS are hoping that the software will be able to replace current desktop systems in one to two years and mobile systems in three to five years, the New York Times reports.  

The head of the alliance, Ni Guangnan of the Chinese Academy of Engineering and co-founder of Chinese tech company Lenovo, has suggested that future development be led by the government due to the lack of independent intellectual property rights—current research on the OS is based on Google’s Android.

The development of the new OS continues in the wake of contentiousness between China and the United States on cybersecurity issues. China says increasing concerns over security are driving its domestic software development.

Microsoft’s latest OS, Microsoft 8, was banned on government tablets, laptops and desktops in May as a part of an energy-saving initiative. Reports following the ban suggested that the OS had been used by the U.S. National Security Agency to steal information from users. Microsoft has also been the focus of a Chinese anti-trust investigation, which has resulted in raids on Microsoft’s offices in China as well as the company’s consulting partners.

The ban on Microsoft 8 and the end of support for Microsoft XP has been a boon for Chinese operating system developers, Ni said.

Other American tech companies have also been under scrutiny in the wake of Edward Snowden’s revelations on the NSA’s Prism program and other spy programs, which gathered foreign intelligence from American servers. Apple, Google, Facebook, and Cisco were accused by Chinese state media of cooperating with the NSA to spy on China.  

China isn’t the only country making accusations, however.

U.S. security firms have continued to publicly identify members of Chinese military spying units by analyzing hackers’ methodologies and locations. Based on that information and its own investigation, the Department of Justice charged five members of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army of economic espionage earlier this year, marking the first time charges have been brought against a state actor for that type of hacking. 

About the Author

Joey Cheng is an editorial fellow with Defense Systems.

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