theodp writes: The New York Times reports that analysts and officials in the American military community are increasingly examining a recent trend among U.S. tech companies of forming new partnerships with Chinese firms that have ties to the Chinese military. Critics are concerned that the growing number of such deals could inadvertently improve the fundamental technology capabilities of the Chinese military — or worse, harm United States national security. "One Chinese technology company receives crucial technical guidance from a former People's Liberation Army rear admiral," notes the Times. "Another company developed the electronics on China's first atomic bomb. A third sells technology to China's air-to-air missile research academy. Their ties to the Chinese military run deep, and they all have something else in common: Each Chinese company counts one of America's tech giants — IBM, Cisco Systems or Microsoft — as a partner." A blurring of the lines among many companies that supply military and commercial technology makes it difficult to know what cooperation might result in technology ultimately being used by China's military. "The Chinese companies are required to do the best for their government. American companies say they are only answerable to their shareholders," said James McGregor of the consulting firm Apco Worldwide. "So who is looking out for the United States?"