Beware China’s “Stealth” Brands

Just a few weeks ago, Protocol called out Lenovo for disguising its name, writing: “Avoiding being seen as Chinese is a trend among companies with major operations, investors, execs or other equities in China that also operate Stateside. And it’s worked remarkably well, even for companies like Lenovo that sell hardware devices into the U.S. and are based in China.” 

Now, Protocol’s Shen Lu is out with a deeper report on the rise of Chinese brands and their efforts to “hide their origin.” 

This is not a new tactic. Over the past two years, China Tech Threat’s Dr. Roslyn Layton has been shining a spotlight on this tactic warning consumers and CNBC viewers about products that have long been thought of as U.S.-made that may actually support the Chinese government and compromise buyers’ personal data.  In a corresponding op-ed, Dr. Layton wrote: 

“Popular products that have long been thought of as American-made, including Motorola and IBM, are now owned by the Chinese government. That means consumers who think they are buying from U.S. companies may actually be supporting America’s top adversary — and compromising their personal data in the process. Much of the revenue from these products goes to China’s government coffers, which is then invested in military projects directed against the United States.”

Fortunately, consumers have other choices for these products, but there is limited consumer education about America’s security policy. Federal authorities restrict many of these products from their own purchase, but this is not communicated effectively to the public.China Tech Threat has identified this as a key policy gap which must be addressed.