Chinese IT firms should fight discrimination

Updated: 2013-08-01 08:00

By Gao Yuan (China Daily)

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Chinese information technology companies should join forces to fight against discrimination from the West, industry experts said, after reports suggested that Western spy agencies have banned equipment made by Lenovo Group Ltd over security concerns.

The world's largest PC maker has been banned from the secret networks of the intelligence and defense services of Australia, the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada and New Zealand, because of concerns Lenovo equipment is "vulnerable to being hacked", the Australian Financial Review reported.

The ban was introduced in mid-2000 after the agencies allegedly found back-door hardware and firmware vulnerabilities in Lenovo chips, said the report.

The long-list of agencies allegedly banning Lenovo equipment includes the US Central Intelligence Agency and National Security Agency and UK secret services MI5 and MI6.

Only the Australian Department of Defense denied banning Lenovo, saying the magazine's report was "factually incorrect".

Lenovo declined to discuss details of the matter, but reiterated it's a responsible company that cares for its customers' information security.

"We will closely look into the situation and be sure to share updates when available," Lenovo said in an e-mailed reply to China Daily on Wednesday.

The company declined to disclose its market share in the government-related sector outside China.

Lenovo faced problems 10 years ago in various markets, including India and Europe, after it purchased IBM's PC unit in 2005, said Zeng Jianqiu, a professor at the School of Economics and Management of the Beijing University of Post and Telecommunications.

"Lenovo and other Chinese manufacturers should actively answer the accusations made by the overseas governments. Similar issues will continue to bother Chinese IT firms in the future because of value and cultural differences between China and Western nations," Zeng said.

Chinese top IT equipment makers, including ZTE Corp and Huawei Technologies Co Ltd, have faced antitrust and security investigations in North America and European markets over the years.

In mid-May, the European Commission threatened to launch an anti-dumping and anti-subsidy investigation into mobile telecommunications equipment imported from China, targeting ZTE and Huawei.

Lenovo overtook Hewlett-Packard Co in the second quarter to become the world's largest PC maker by shipment volume despite the fact that the industry is experiencing a record slump, data from international research firms IDC and Gartner showed.

Lenovo shipped at least 12.6 million PCs in the same period.

The Beijing-based company has been beefing up its product lines, targeting government and enterprise customers.

It has also partnered with US storage giant EMC Corp to develop high-end servers, an area that enjoys significantly higher profit margins than the consumer electronics business.