(Adds U.S. State Department comment)
May 27 China is pressuring its banks to remove
high-end servers made by IBM and replace them with a
local brand, Bloomberg reported on Tuesday, as tensions rise
between Beijing and Washington over allegations of cyber
A spokesman for International Business Machines Corp said
the U.S. technology company was not aware of any such demands by
the Chinese government.
"IBM is not aware of any Chinese government policy
recommending against the use of IBM servers within the country's
banking industry," said IBM spokesman Ian Colley. "IBM is a
trusted partner in China and has been for more than 30 years."
The Bloomberg report, which cited anonymous sources, comes a
week after the U.S. Justice Department charged five Chinese
military officers, accusing them of hacking American companies
to steal trade secrets.
China on Monday accused the United States of "unscrupulous"
cyber surveillance that included large-scale computer attacks
against the Chinese government and Chinese companies.
China has also told state-owned enterprises to
sever links with U.S. consulting firms, The Financial Times
reported on Sunday.
The Bloomberg report said Chinese government agencies
including the People's Bank of China and the Ministry
of Finance are reviewing whether Chinese commercial banks'
reliance on the IBM servers compromised the country's financial
The results of the review will be submitted to a working
group on Internet security chaired by Chinese President Xi
Jinping, according to Bloomberg.
The U.S. State Department said the Justice Department's
hacking charges, announced on May 19, relate to a law
"It doesn't provide, in our view, any justification for
retaliation against U.S. businesses or the U.S. government,"
said State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki.
"We continue to believe that a dialogue about cyber-related
issues and concerns we have, and certainly concerns they have,
is the best path forward," she said, referring to the Chinese
The Chinese central bank and finance ministry did not
immediately respond to requests for comment. A spokesman at
China's National Development and Reform Commission said the
country's top economic planner has not told companies to change
their IBM servers, nor received orders from higher levels of the
government to do so.
Sources at China's "big four" state-owned banks said they
had no knowledge of pressure for a technology change, saying any
replacement of such systems would not be an easy task.
"We haven't heard about the order," an official at one of
the bank's IT department said, declining to be identified
because he was not allowed to speak to the media.
"There aren't any locally made hardware around that can
handle the massive amount of data in the banking industry."
Over the weekend a U.S. official told Reuters the government
was looking at a number of measures to curb Chinese cyber
espionage, including visa restrictions to prevent Chinese
nationals from attending hacker conferences in the United States
(Reporting by Xie Heng, Kang Xize, Koh Gui Qing and Aileen Wang
in Beijing, Bi Xiaowen in Hong Kong, Arnab Sen in Bangalore, Jim
Finkle in Boston, and Lesley Wroughton and Alina Selyukh in
Washington; Writing by Kazunori Takada; Editing by Gopakumar
Warrier and Kenneth Maxwell)