U.S. State Department to limit use of Lenovo PCs

It's concerned about the company's ties to the Chinese government

The U.S. Department of State will not use Lenovo Group Ltd. computers on a classified network because of ongoing concerns about the company's Chinese government ties, a U.S. congressman has announced.

The State Department's decision comes after Rep. Frank Wolf (R-Va.) objected to the use of computers made by Lenovo, which has heardquarters in Purchase, N.Y., in a classified network connecting U.S. embassies and consulates. In March, the State Department announced a $13 million purchase of 16,000 Lenovo computers and related equipment through government contractor CDW Corp.

About 900 of those PCs were slated to be used in the embassy network, said Wolf, chairman of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, State and the Judiciary. In a letter Wolf received yesterday, the State Department said it will use Lenovo computers only in unclassified settings.

"I was deeply troubled to learn that the new computers were purchased from a China-based company," Wolf said in a statement. “This decision would have had dire consequences for our national security, potentially jeopardizing our investment in a secure IT infrastructure. It is no secret that the United States is a principal target of Chinese intelligence services."

Last year, the U.S. Department of Treasury's Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States conducted an extended review of Lenovo's purchase of IBM's PC business. But the U.S. government eventually approved the deal. Some lawmakers had questioned the deal, saying it posed a threat to U.S. national security.

In April, members of the U.S. government's U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Committee raised objections to Lenovo computers used in the classified network. Michael Wessel, a Democratic member of the commission, raised concerns because Lenovo is partly owned by the Chinese Academy of Sciences, an arm of the Chinese government, he said in a statement.

The State Department needs a policy on the use of technology in classified networks, he added. "This event should trigger a broader review of our procurement policies for all our classified networks and communications," Wessel said.

Copyright © 2006 IDG Communications, Inc.

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