Chinese Internet Troll’s Business Is Patriotism

Lenovo, an American security threat, is at political risk at home
December 4, 2021 Updated: December 8, 2021

News Analysis

Online videos by Sima Nan, a Chinese internet troll, have recently earned an estimated commercial value of $3 million and attracted more than 7.5 million viewers.

Between Nov. 7 and 21, his seven consecutive videos brought a lot of traffic and huge commercial success.

The cyberspace watchdog Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC) recently tightened its internet censorship by issuing its 20th fine to Douban, a popular Chinese online social media firm, for releasing misleading public opinions on economic policies. Obviously, Sima’s posts and success were granted with the permission and recognition of Beijing.

Lenovo: Target of Sima’s Videos

Sima’s videos targeted China’s Lenovo Group Ltd. and one of its founders, Liu Chuanzhi.

Sherbet, a Chinese finance self-media public account, defended Lenovo and argued that Sima’s fame was a “combination of patriotism and populism.”

Under the ruling of the Chinese Communist Party, it has been a widely manipulated theme in Chinese public opinion that pledging loyalty to the Party is equivalent to being patriotic to the nation.

Lenovo, founded in 1984, affiliated to the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS), was founded by and under the direct management of The Institute of Computing Technology (ICT).

ICT served “the development of cutting-edge defense technology,” under the premise of “Two bombs, One satellite” project during the Mao Zedong era in 1959.

When Deng Xiaoping started the reform and opening up in 1978, ICT transitioned to cover the market field under Chinese economic policy.

Subsequently, ICT claimed that Lenovo is a successful model for the CAS to run an enterprise, a success in implementing the decision of the regime in the reform of the scientific and technological system.

Lenovo’s official website detailed its success “from a regional PC player to a global leader in Intelligent Transformation.”

In 1994, Lenovo gained world stage admission by being listed on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange.

Since then, Lenovo had three critical expansions in the global market: the acquisition of IBM’s PC business in 2005, and the acquisition of IBM’s x86 server and Motorola’s mobile phone business in 2014.

On Nov. 4, Lenovo announced the company’s net income grew 65 percent year-on-year to $512 million last quarter; it had its best quarter ever in smartphones, profit reached a historic high while revenue grew 27 percent year-on-year, the highest in 15 quarters; and it delivered a strong double-digit revenue growth in Latin America, North America, EMEA (Europe, the Middle East, and Africa), and Asia Pacific.

Lenovo’s global business is outstanding, but also a concern to the free world. Its influence might be as phenomenal as that of Huawei. However, Washington does not seem to pay much attention to it.

In June 2020, Roslyn Layton explained in her article, “Why Is U.S. Policy Tough On Huawei And TikTok But Not Lenovo?” that Huawei is not the only security threat from China.

Lenovo’s 2014 acquisition would cost American taxpayers “$378 million bill to rip and replace the Air Force servers, among other costs,” wrote Layton.

Domestically, Lenovo does not shy away from its deep Chinese military ties.

In June 2017, Lenovo Group Ltd. joined the Civil Enterprise Military Expo in Beijing as a leading civil enterprise representative, along with large state-owned enterprises such as China Shipbuilding Industry Corporation and China Aerospace Science and Industry Corporation.

Beijing’s Grip on Private Industry

Sima criticized Lenovo for selling its shares cheaply to Oceanwide Holdings in 2009, resulting in a 1.3 billion yuan ($200 million) loss of state assets.

The sale took place when Liu Chuanzhi was the CEO and Jiang Mianheng, the son of the communist regime former leader Jiang Zemin, was one of the vice presidents in CAS.

Facing the political threat from his opponents, Xi Jinping purged numerous high power officials through his anti-corruption campaign. The economic downturn forced Xi to tighten his control over private industries, as shown in a series of crackdowns on Chinese firms such as Alibaba and Tencent in recent years.

Could Sima’s videos win him a fortune by meeting the administrator’s campaign needs politically and economically? Regardless, a successful business in the communist regime is never simple.

Sophia Lam and Mary Hong contributed to this article.

Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.

Haizhong Ning was a state employee and worked for a real estate company in China, before moving abroad and working as a reporter with a focus on Chinese affairs and politics for more than seven years.
Luo Ya
Luo Ya is a freelance contributor to The Epoch Times.