Obama Blocks Chinese Wind Project near Naval Base in Oregon
In a decision meant to protect U.S. national security—or his current lead in the polls—President Obama last week ordered a Chinese company to sell its interest in four wind energy projects located within the airspace of the Naval Weapons Systems Training Facility in Boardman, Oregon, where the military conducts training missions for unmanned drone aircraft. Directed at the Chinese-owned Ralls Corporation and an ownership group that includes other Chinese nationals, the order is based on a recommendation of the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS), an inter-agency group that reviews business acquisitions by foreigners to determine if they might impair national security. The Chinese were also ordered to remove all structures and other assets stored at the site.
The order is the first since 1990, when President George Bush blocked the sale of an American aircraft maker to a Chinese agency. The Oregon decision was criticized as a political response to accusations by Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney that Obama has been “weak” in his dealings with China.
The Obama administration denied that politics played any role in the decision, a position echoed by some outsiders. Micah Zenko, a fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, said “It’s very realistic that you would be concerned that the Chinese could collect intelligence,” on unmanned drones. At present, the U.S. has a near-monopoly on drones, while other powers like Russia and China are busily trying close that gap.
The decision is the third to go against China since June, including a decision in June imposing a 31% tariff on Chinese-made solar panels and one in July setting tariffs on wind tower imports from China. Counsel for Ralls, which went to court in August to overturn the CFIUS recommendations, said that the company would appeal Obama’s order in federal court.
To Learn More:
President Obama Flexes on China (by Pete Kasperowicz, The Hill)
Obama Orders Chinese Company to End Investment at Sites Near Drone Base (by Helene Cooper, New York Times)
Obama Blocks China's Second-Richest Man From Owning Wind Farm Near Secret Navy Base (by Christopher Helman, Forbes)
Ralls Drops Bid for Court Order to Resume Wind Project (by Sara Forden, Business Week)
Chinese Government-Controlled Companies Charged with Stealing DuPont Trade Secrets (by David Wallechinsky and Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)
China and Russia Lead in Stealing U.S. Economic Secrets (by Noel Brinkerhoff and David Wallechinsky, AllGov)
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