This past week, those lawmakers thought the Pentagon finally heeded their warnings. An email circulated within the Air Force appeared to indicate that Lenovo was being kicked out.
"For immediate implementation: Per AF Cyber Command direction, Lenovo products are being removed from the Approved Products List and should not be purchased for DoD use. Lenovo products currently in use will be removed from the network," stated the message. The apparent directive was generally welcomed as it circulated around Capitol Hill.
Then the Pentagon's press office weighed in. Not so fast, it said.
Ann Stefanek, an Air Force spokeswoman, said the message was mistaken, "not properly coordinated" and should not have been sent. Neither the Air Force nor the rest of the Defense Department has banned Lenovo products, she added.
In fact, the "Approved Products List" referenced in the Air Force message focused on communications equipment such as routers, rather than personal computers, for which Lenovo is known. Army Lt. Col. Valerie Henderson, a Pentagon spokeswoman, said Lenovo has never been on that list.
Those statements to The Washington Post did not go over well with lawmakers such as Rep. Robert Pittenger, R-North Carolina, who is working on two proposals that would severely limit the use of products from any Chinese company
"My office received verifiable evidence that the Air Force intended on removing Lenovo as a supplier," Pittenger said. "However, the Defense Department is now claiming this Air Force directive was unapproved and inaccurate."
"Should the Air Force have legitimate concerns with Lenovo, I am troubled that the Defense Department would not take swift action in support of that evidence," he added.
The squabble comes amid heightened tension between the United States and China over
Worries over companies' ties to foreign governments have been aired before - other Chinese firms, including telecom equipment makers ZTE and Huawei, have been the subject of probes by the Treasury Department and Congress.
Lenovo has repeatedly denied any link to state-sponsored
In 2004, when Lenovo bought IBM's PC business, the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) - a Treasury Department body that examines transactions and investments that foreign companies
One of the main concerns that surfaced in the 2014 review was over the maintenance of Lenovo servers. Lenovo had agreed to contract IBM to service U.S.
The 2014 probe also looked into the state connections of Legend Holdings, which has a controlling share of Lenovo and is in turn partially owned by a Chinese state entity called the Chinese Academy of Sciences.
Both acquisitions were ultimately cleared by the CFIUS.
Still, the CFIUS rulings did not stop agencies from cutting off the company. In 2006, the State Department said it would not use on classified networks 16,000 computers it had bought from Lenovo. The reason was security concerns. There was also an effort in 2011 to remove Lenovo hardware purchased for use at the Tobyhanna Army Depot in Pennsylvania, which was a site for IT repairs.
Besides facing turbulence in Washington, Lenovo has had to contend with a downturn in the overall PC market. The firm has pushed hard to make inroads in the U.S.
While the firm remains the world's top-selling PC manufacturer, a report from IDC indicates that its PC shipments in the first quarter of 2016 shrank 8.5 percent from the same period last year.