By George Chen
The opinions expressed are the author’s own.

If Apple calls its tablet computer the iPad, what will China’s Lenovo name its new rival product? The answer: LePad. No kidding.

Lenovo CFO Wong Wai Ming said during an interview at Reuters offices in Beijing on December 13, when attending this week’s China Investment Summit, that the world’s No.4 PC maker would launch its LePad tablet computer in China within the next few weeks and was also planning a smartphone to run on China Mobile’s TD-SCDMA 3G network as it moves beyond its traditional PC base.

I’m not trying to give a free advertisement for Lenovo’s LePad in my column today. The reason I raise the matter is mainly to draw your attention to how fast Chinese companies can react to new international consumer trends and the quick success of new products such as Apple’s iPad. In less than half a year, ZTE Corp launched a tablet PC in October that sold for a far lower price than the iPad, even though it looks very much the same.

Many analysts have identified consumer-driven telecommunications, media and technology sectors as hot themes for stock market investment next year as Chinese consumers, in particular the young generation, become increasingly keen to shop and spend.

And that’s exactly what the Chinese government wants – to transform its economic structure and make it less reliant on exports and more on domestic consumption.