June 1, 2006
Written by C.N.
I’ve written before how many Americans have reservations about the Chinese company Lenovo buying and taking over IBM’s personal computer business, including many government officials. This week, these anti-Chinese paranoids succeeded in getting the U.S. State Department to ban Lenovo computers from handling classified information:
The State Department, responding to fears that its security might be breached by a secretly placed device or hidden software, agreed to keep personal computers made by Lenovo of China off its networks that handle classified government messages and documents. . . . The State Department will use the 16,000 desktop computers it purchased from Lenovo, just not on the computer networks that carry sensitive government intelligence.
Yet the episode does point to how much relations between the United States and China have become a tangled web of political, trade and security issues. Mutual economic dependence and mutual distrust, it seems, go hand in hand. To the Lenovo side, the outcome was a matter of anti-China politics overriding economic logic.
I never ceases to amaze me how paranoid and irrational politicians can be — to allow their anti-Chinese suspicions override basic knowledge and common sense. Even if the Chinese were desperate enough to try to implant secret spying software or hardware on their Lenovo computers, aren’t American computer engineers (supposedly some of the best in the world) capable of detecting and removing such features?
In the end, this move on the part of the State Department and those who are afraid of China’s emerging prominence only shows that. sadly, the U.S. government is starting to panic and lose its cool. Rather than feeling confident in its own personnel and technology, it decides to resort to fear tactics and desperation.
In other words, this kind of defensive mentality is another sign that does not bode well for the U.S. retaining its position as the dominant political and technological superpower in the world.
UPDATE: On June 14, 2006, the U.S. government officially announced that it is canceling its initial decision to buy $1.3 million dollars worth of Lenovo computers. More nationalistic paranoia and pandering, unfortunately.
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Suggested reference: Le, C.N. . "Chinese Lenovo Computers Banned" Asian-Nation: The Landscape of Asian America. <http://www.asian-nation.org/headlines/2006/06/chinese-lenovo-computers-banned/> ().
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