Print 37 comment(s) - last by piasabird.. on May 22 at 1:20 AM

The USCC launched a probe against Lenovo, but many wonder if the accusations are warranted

The United States government is planning to spend roughly $13M USD on computers from Lenovo. The company, famous for buying up IBM's PC manufacturing arm, is working on a deal with the US government to produce roughly 16,000 computers. Just recently, the U.S.-China Economic Security Review Commission (USCC) has requested that Lenovo be probed for any concerns about possible spying, eavesdropping or worse.

The supposed problem presented by the USCC is that the 16,000 computers are being built by a Chinese-mainland company.  The USCC argues that a foreign intelligence like that of the Communist Party of China (CPC) can use its power to get Lenovo to equip its machines with espionage devices. Lenovo has strongly declined that it is involved in any such activities.

Many analysts would call these probes are excessive and knee-jerk.  When manufactured under IBM, almost all Lenovo PCs were built in the People's Republic of China and the Republic of China (Taiwan) to some degree or another anyway.  Of the top 10 system builders in the US, eight have some component manufacture attributed specifically to ECS-Tatung, at Taiwanese corporation that only assembles exclusively in the PRC.  Of the other two not represented by ECS-Tatung, Dell and Apple, Dell has a strong reliance on ASUStek -- another company that builds exclusively in the PRC. 

Despite the probe, Lenovo says that its international business, especially those that deal with the US, follow strictly laid out government regulations and rules. Lenovo also claims that even after purchasing IBM's PC division, its international business has not been affected negatively. Interestingly, in an interview with the BBC, Lenovo mentioned that an open investigation or probe may negatively affect the way that the company deals with future government contracts or bids. The Lenovo representative did not explain details on exactly what negative implications would occur if there were future investigations. The 16,000 PCs to be built for the US government are actually assembled outside of China in Mexico, Taiwan and Raleigh -- an oddity in the PC manufacturing business.

A top tier motherboard manufacturer spokesman spoke to us off the record claiming the Lenovo probe has "foreboding" implications.  If US companies are intimidated by probes of the USCC, such probes could be easily applied to virtually every PC manufacturer in the US: Intel motherboards are built by Taiwanese Hon Hai Precision Industries from facilities in Shenzhen; Acer components are built by component manufacturers in Shanghai; Dell PCs are assembled in factories in Suzhou and Shanghai.  The same spokesperson went on to say "We [Taiwanese manufactures] do more work in China than we do anywhere else in the world. I don't even want to think about what would happen to our US clients if we got a USCC probe."

CDW Government, the company originally contracted to fill the orders for the US government also carries several brands that are assembled in the PRC including Acer, BenQ, D-Link, HP, Sharp and Toshiba. 

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More of the same post-Dubai
By killerroach on 3/30/2006 1:40:25 AM , Rating: 5
After the whole Dubai ports deal, methinks the government is getting a bit oversensitive to the matter of foreign involvement, even if it's been occurring in the past (we won't let Dubai run terminals in Baltimore, but we'll let the Chinese run them in L.A. and Long Beach). Somebody's out to score political points with this one, and it could end up having serious retaliatory consequences. Unless somebody has some damaging information that could put Lenovo in trouble, this seems more of an extension of the isolationist witch-hunt that started with Dubai.

RE: More of the same post-Dubai
By creathir on 3/30/2006 1:46:20 PM , Rating: 2
Dubai was something totally different.
This is buying a product, MADE by one hostile government, to use in our government.
THAT is a HUGE security risk.
- Creathir

RE: More of the same post-Dubai
By Samus on 3/31/2006 4:19:59 AM , Rating: 2
Creathir, of course you have the right to be concerned, China is after all out of control, but really, if devices were present in these machines, don't you think (without the probe) the devices will be uncovered. I can just see Tom's hardware all over that.

The 16,000 machines won't be built exclusively for the US government, it'll probably just be part of a huge batch. If anything, I'd request the order have its fulfillment selected from the batch at random to eliminate the possibility of that segment of the batch being contaminated with a recording device, etc.

RE: More of the same post-Dubai
By piasabird on 5/22/2006 1:20:12 AM , Rating: 2
Almost all parts are for computers are manufactured in Asia. Many Taiwan countries have been building facilities in China. In fact over 50% of Dell's employees are outside of United States. There is no company US or otherwise that make computers in the United States. They may assemble them, but they do not make any computers in the USA with maybe the exception of a Supercomputer or possibly a mainframe.

Feel free to name any computer made in the united states form the motherboard to the disk drive.

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