The State Department has backed down on a decision to install computers made by Chinese company Lenovo on its classified networks, officials said yesterday.
But the department’s purchase of about 16,000 personal computers from Lenovo raises serious questions given accusations that China is aggressively spying on the United States, said Rep. Frank R. Wolf, Virginia Republican.
Word of the State Department order for the desktop computers was made public in March, 10 months after Lenovo completed its $1.75 billion acquisition of IBM’s PC division.
The department chose to install about 900 of the PCs on its secure network in Washington and at embassies around the world, documents released by Mr. Wolf show.
But after a flurry of objections from the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission, a bipartisan panel appointed by Congress, the department opted this week to pull the computers from the network.
“This decision would have had dire consequences for our national security, potentially jeopardizing our investment in a secure [information-technology] infrastructure,” said Mr. Wolf, whose House appropriations subcommittee funds the State Department.
“It is no secret that the United States is a principal target of Chinese intelligence services,” he said.
Last year’s acquisition vaulted Lenovo to third place among global PC makers, behind only Dell and Hewlett-Packard. The Chinese firm kept the right to use the IBM name on its PCs and the “ThinkPad” brand on laptop computers.