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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

American consumers are quite familiar with many of the big-name foreign products — Toyota, Samsung, to name a couple — but brands from China are virtually invisible.

The big picture: Chinese companies doing business in the U.S. are doing their best to hide where they come from. If they're not actively masking their home country, they're certainly not leading with it.

Driving the news: The first publicly Chinese-owned company to make its way into the minds and hearts of American consumers is TikTok. And it’s dealing with headache after headache due to its China ties.

  • The viral social video-sharing app has been downloaded about 80 million times in the U.S., and its skyrocketing popularity has made it the target of a federal probe.
  • TikTok, which is based in the U.S., is desperately trying to distance itself from Bytedance, its Chinese owner. CEO Alex Zhu told the New York Times he'd go as far as to reject a user data request from Chinese President Xi Jinping himself.

Chinese brands have been trying to fly under the radar for years.

  • Take Volvo, one of the most prominent Chinese-owned brands to crack the U.S. market. Volvo is a Swedish subsidiary of Chinese automaker Geely. But how many Americans who buy a Volvo think they're buying a Chinese car?
  • Other Chinese brands hiding in plain sight include TCL, the hardware giant that sells in the U.S. under the names of Alcatel and Blackberry, and Lenovo, notes Axios' Ina Fried.

Go deeper:

Go deeper

N.Y. Times faces culture clashes as business booms

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

New York Times columnist David Brooks' resignation from a paid gig at a think tank on Saturday is the latest in a flurry of scandals that America's biggest and most successful newspaper company has endured in the past year.

Driving the news: Brooks resigned from the Aspen Institute following a BuzzFeed News investigation that uncovered conflicts of interest between his reporting and money he accepted from corporate donors for a project called "Weave" that he worked on at the nonprofit.

America rebalances its post-Trump news diet

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Nearly halfway through President Biden's first 100 days, data shows that Americans are learning to wean themselves off of news — and especially politics.

Why it matters: The departure of former President Trump's once-ubiquitous presence in the news cycle has reoriented the country's attention.

2021 sees a record number of bills targeting trans youth

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Republicans in at least 25 states have introduced over 60 bills targeting transgender children — a legislative boom since January that has beaten 2020's total number of anti-trans bills.

Why it matters: LGBTQ advocates say the unprecedented push was catalyzed by backlash to Biden's election and the Supreme Court ruling that workers cannot be fired for being gay or transgender.