Wary of the West, Russia and China Expand Trade in Computer Software

Communications and Mass Media Minister Nikolai Nikiforov.

As Russia's relations with the West spoil over Ukraine, the Kremlin has agreed to broaden software deliveries to China, with increased supplies of Chinese servers, storage systems and other IT products set to come the other way, Russian Communications and Mass Media Minister Nikolai Nikiforov said Monday.  

The deal is likely aimed at helping Russia replace deliveries of U.S. information technology products in light of Western sanctions imposed on Moscow for its role in the Ukraine crisis.  

Following his meeting in Beijing with Chinese Industry and IT Minister Miao Wei and the head of China's media administration, Cai Fuchao, Nikiforov also wrote on his Twitter account that the two countries have called for "a multilateral transparent model for managing crucial Internet resources," in an apparent sign that Russia and China may collaborate on cyber surveillance in future.

The move also comes a year after NSA leaker Edward Snowden revealed the scale of U.S. intelligence gathering, which served as a wake-up call in Russia on the security hazards of using Western computer software.

Any forthcoming bilateral agreements on security could play into the hands of Russian developers such as anti-virus software maker Kaspersky Lab, which is expanding into Asian markets, but was this month dropped from Beijing's list of approved online security vendors, according to a report by the People's Daily newspaper in China.

Chinese lawmakers have recently taken a hard line against foreign IT companies amid security fears. In July Beijing opened an anti-monopoly inquiry into the practices of Microsoft and in May banned the use of Windows 8 operating system on all new government computers, AFP reported. China's leadership has also put pressure on the country's banks to get rid of IBM servers, Bloomberg reported in May.

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