A very good question, and the current answer is a bit unsettling.
From the link:
Is it safe to buy Chinese-made computer equipment?With Google and the National Security Agency now teaming up to investigate supposed Chinese hacking and most of our PC hardware coming from China, it’s a fair question. And a hard one to answer with certainty.
It is made more urgent by a report in the Sunday Times newspaper that Chinese spies in the U.K. have been handing out bugged memory sticks and cameras to targeted businesses in an attempt to steal the companies’ intellectual property.
Headlined, “China bugs and burgles Britain,” the story quotes a classified report from MI5–their equivalent of our CIA–and says, “The gifts–cameras and memory sticks –have been found to contain electronic Trojan bugs which provide the Chinese with remote access to users’ computers.”
My friend, security blogger Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols, yesterday posted an item suggesting it wouldn’t be too difficult for Chinese PC manufacturers to build backdoors into their products and use them to spy on pretty much anyone.
“If China’s government really is hell-bent on keeping an eye on American and European businesses, why not just incorporate 21st century backdoors into their products? Then, you could just have them automatically call home to do a data dump of documents. If there’s anything interesting in the files, it can be set to monitor its user on a regular basis,” Vaughan-Nichols wrote.
“There’s nothing difficult about doing this. Not only are backdoors easy to create, running an automatic check for words of interest, even in terabytes of documents, just requires some servers. After all,Google does it every day with far more data than such a plot could ever uncover.”