The skyline at Bejing's central business district in China. Picture: 123RF/SEAN PAVONE
The skyline at Bejing's central business district in China. Picture: 123RF/SEAN PAVONE

Beijing — China has asked some of the country’s state-run companies to avoid business trips to the US and its allies, and to take extra care to protect their devices if they need to travel, Bloomberg reported on Tuesday.

The state-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission (Sasac), which oversees about 100 government-run companies, has told some firms in recent weeks to only take secure, company-issued laptops meant for overseas use if travelling is necessary, according to the report, citing people familiar with the request.

China’s travel advice also included warning on travelling to the other countries in the Five Eyes intelligence-sharing pact — Britain, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, Bloomberg said.

Sasac did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

One state-owned Chinese energy firm had recently tightened information technology security protocols for employees travelling to the US, a company source told Reuters on condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the matter.

Some employees at the company were not allowed to take laptops on such trips and were ordered to delete all work-related data and information from their personal phones before travelling, the person said.

Approved business trips to the US had not been cancelled, the person said.

At the centre of growing strains between China and the US was the recent arrest of a top executive at Chinese technology giant Huawei in Canada at the request of US authorities.

The detention has raised concerns over a potential backlash on US firms operating in China, amid an already tense war between the two countries on the trade front.

China’s ties with Canada have also turned frosty since the arrest of Meng Wanzhou, the CFO and “heiress” of Huawei.

China has warned of unspecified consequences unless Meng is released, and has detained Michael Kovrig, a Canadian diplomat on unpaid leave from the embassy in Beijing, and Michael Spavor, a Canadian consultant, on suspicion of endangering state security.

Beijing has not drawn a direct link between the detentions and the arrest of Meng, wanted by US authorities for allegedly misleading multinational banks about Iran-linked transactions. Western diplomats say the cases are a tit-for-tat reprisal.

On Monday, Canada’s foreign ministry updated its travel advisory for China to warn citizens about “the risk of arbitrary enforcement of local laws”.

Reuters