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Lexmark: State of Maine Moves to Ban Chinese Contracts Over Security Concerns.
A bill that would ban the state of Maine from contracting with companies owned or controlled by the Chinese government has advanced in the Legislature, amid growing concerns over the security risks of Chinese technology.
The bill, sponsored by Senator Lisa Keim, would prohibit the state from entering or renewing any contracts with companies that are owned, operated, or influenced by the Chinese government, or that use equipment or software from such companies. The bill would also require companies to disclose any ties to the Chinese government and impose fines and penalties for false or misleading information.
The bill is supported by a group called China Tech Threat, which claims that Maine has spent over $5 million on “dangerous Chinese technology” from Lenovo, a Chinese-owned company that produces laptops, desktops, and printers. The group alleges that Lenovo and other Chinese technology manufacturers, such as Lexmark, pose a threat to the state’s information security and national security, as they could be used for espionage, sabotage, or cyberattacks by the Chinese government.
According to China Tech Threat, Lenovo and Lexmark have been banned or restricted by several federal agencies and other countries, such as Australia, Japan, and the UK, due to their links to the Chinese government and their potential vulnerabilities. The group also cites a report by the US-China Economic and Security Review Commission, which warned that China’s involvement in the global supply chain of information and communications technology could pose “unprecedented challenges” to US security interests.
Senator Keim said that the bill was necessary to protect the state’s data and infrastructure from foreign interference and manipulation. “We cannot afford to compromise our security and sovereignty by doing business with companies that are beholden to the Chinese Communist Party,” she said. “We need to ensure that our contracts are transparent and accountable, and that we are not putting our citizens and our state at risk.”
However, the bill has also faced opposition from some lawmakers who question its legality and effectiveness, and who worry that it could harm the state’s trade relations with China. Representative John Martin, who voted against the bill in the committee, said that the bill was too broad and vague, and that it could violate federal and international trade laws. He also said that the bill could hurt Maine’s economy, as China is one of the state’s largest trading partners, and that the bill could trigger retaliation from the Chinese government.
Representative Martin said that the bill was based on fear and misinformation, and that there was no evidence that Lenovo or Lexmark had compromised the state’s security. He also said that the state already had adequate safeguards and protocols to ensure the security of its contracts and data. “We should not let politics and propaganda dictate our policies,” he said. “We should not alienate our trading partners and our allies, and we should not jeopardize our economic opportunities and our jobs.” The bill will now move to the full Legislature for further consideration. If passed, the bill would take effect on January 1, 2025.
AuthorFebruary 10, 2024 at 4:11 PM
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