Some well-known U.S. brands appear to be homegrown but are supported by Chinese investors. In addition, there’s an astounding number of American corporations acquired, operated, or partially controlled by Chinese companies.
General Electric (GE) was a relatively small brand when it was founded in 1892. The business grew exponentially and became a giant corporation specializing in many fields, from aviation, healthcare, energy, and even venture capital.
Many Americans feel comfortable buying GE home appliances because they are stamped “Made in America.” Still, few people notice that in 2016 GE agreed to sell GE Appliances to China’s Haier Group for $5.4 billion.
The deal makes it easier for Haier to sell refrigerators, washing machines, and other appliances after years of struggling to gain a foothold in the U.S. and other countries. According to the Wall Street Journal, Haier has had the right to use the GE trademark for home appliances for 40 years.
GE Appliances retains its headquarters in Louisville, Kentucky.
Elon Musk is the head of Tesla and the largest shareholder, but he’s not alone. According to data from Bloomberg, Chinese internet giant Tencent Holdings joined the ranks of car giants in 2017 with the acquisition of a 5% stake in electric car maker Tesla for $1.8 billion, making the Chinese company Tesla’s fifth-largest shareholder.
Tencent’s investment has provided Tesla with the cash flow it needs as Tesla prepares to launch the Model 3. Tencent also helps Tesla sell, or even build, cars in China, the world’s best auto market.
Joel Backaler, CEO of Frontier Strategy Group, said to the South China Morning Post: “Chinese companies often invest in corporations that own advanced technology in the U.S., intending to bring those technologies to life in China. This could be the explanation for Tencent’s investment in Tesla because of China’s burgeoning electric vehicle market. Meanwhile, Tencent has invested in carmaker Nio and the Chinese ride-hailing app Didi.
Lenovo, a Chinese technology corporation, acquired the personal computer (PC) division of IBM—a multinational technology corporation based in New York—for $ 1.25 billion in 2005, making Lenovo the 3rd largest PC maker globally.
Under the acquisition agreement, Lenovo inherited the IBM ThinkPad line and used the IBM name on its products until 2010. IBM PCs are known for their durability, and in advertising campaigns, Lenovo has tried to associate the Lenovo brand with IBM’s reputation. As a result, the Wall Street Journal reported that Lenovo’s sales and profits skyrocketed after the acquisition.
However, by Nov. 2007, IBM’s ThinkPads had been rebranded Lenovo ThinkPad, and the IBM logo no longer appeared on the Chinese corporation’s products.
SAIC-GM is a joint venture company established in 1997 with 50% investment capital from SAIC—a Chinese automobile manufacturing enterprise and 50% from General Motors (GM) of the United States.
Since combining with SAIC, GM “stormed” into the Chinese market and made enormous profits for many years. However, the price that GM had to pay is not tiny.
Along the way, GM has helped SAIC grow into a cutting-edge automaker with top designers, engineers, and marketers. SAIC has used GM’s expertise and technology to transform into a global auto giant, challenging automakers in the United States and other countries.
In 2012, SAIC opened its North American headquarters in Birmingham, Michigan, just 20 miles from GM’s Detroit base. Currently, SAIC wants to boost operations in Latin America and Europe—two markets where GM has operated for a long time. And most of all, the Chinese regime wants access to advanced electric car technology, something GM doesn’t want to share, according to the Wall Street Journal.
In 2016, Lexmark International agreed to sell to investors, including China-based Apex Technology, for $3.6 billion.
In recent months, Lexmark announced it would help U.S. and European businesses produce devices that can be remotely monitored, thanks to the Internet of Things.
The Internet of Things (IoT) is a network that connects things and devices through sensors, software, and other technologies, allowing objects and devices to collect and exchange data with each other and with a central hub control. For example, Lexmark operates its Internet of Things network consisting of 1.2 million office printers, each with more than 100 sensors that monitor ink and other details affecting printer performance.
In 2019, the U.S. Department of Defense Inspector General (DODIG) criticized the Army and Air Force for the purchase of printers from Lexmark. The China-based company was accused of having connections to the Chinese military and the country’s nuclear and cyber espionage programs, ZD Net reported.
“These vulnerabilities could allow remote attackers to use a connected Lexmark printer to conduct cyber espionage or launch a denial of service attack on a DoD network,” the DODIG said.
A study by Dr. Roslyn Layton updated in 2020 offers a similar warning. The study reads: “Hardware and software made by China [company] could facilitate data transfers to China, where the Chinese Communist Party or stakeholders process data. … Lexmark has been reported for repeatedly disregarding cyber security threats and espionage threats. The company’s printers are used as a means of network penetration. Printers, one of the least secure Internet of Things devices, are where sensitive data is stored on hard drives from print jobs that are performed every day.”