By Robert Pittenger
Should a company controlled by the Communist Chinese government be allowed to purchase a major U.S. military supplier?
Obviously, the answer is “no.” Yet shockingly, the deal almost went through.
Last year, a Chinese-backed shell company announced plans to purchase Lattice Semiconductor, the third-largest American producer of critical, proprietary technology used in satellites and missile defense equipment. The deal would have given the Chinese government full access to critical U.S. national security information.
China has also made efforts to purchase insurance and financial firms which contain troves of sensitive personal data, and invest in real estate near U.S. military installations.
These are just a few examples. China is buying U.S. companies at a breathtaking rate. Between 2010 and 2016, Chinese investment in the United States increased by over 900%.
While some were legitimate business investments, many were part of a strategic Communist Chinese government effort to infiltrate the U.S. economy, steal our technology, target our critical infrastructure, and compromise our defense apparatus.
China is quickly emerging as America’s greatest geopolitical challenge. They are intent on establishing themselves as a global superpower, standing toe to toe with the United States.
However, their communist economy lacks the innovation and ingenuity to compete with the United States. As a result, their military and technology capabilities are noticeably deficient.
In order to keep pace, China’s communist leadership has resorted to cyber warfare. Under the guise of “benign financial investment,” the Chinese are also purchasing critical U.S. companies in order to steal our technology and information.
Their actions carry dire national security implications that, if left unchecked, could potentially cause irreversible damage to our economy and defense apparatus.
America’s first, and only, line of defense against malicious foreign investment is the little-known Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS), which is charged with reviewing the potential national security implications of foreign investments.
The problem is that CFIUS is a relic of the Cold War not substantially upgraded since the 1970s. CFIUS is simply not built to counter the threats imposed by 21st century cyber warfare and the global economy.
We live in a radically different world. The threats we face from China are far different than what we faced from the Soviet Union. These include the developing threats of technology, information, and cyber warfare.
As our economy and technology evolves, so do the national security implications of direct foreign investment. From the ability to proliferate propaganda to cyberwarfare to the stealing of critical technology, these threats are very serious.
For over two years, I have been leading a bipartisan effort to highlight these new risks and build support for a solution.
After several months of painstaking work, Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn and I recently introduced bipartisan legislation to overhaul and modernize CFIUS. Our bipartisan legislation provides our government with the necessary tools to track and evaluate Chinese investment to determine which transactions threaten America’s national security. Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Richard Burr and House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes are among several bipartisan co-sponsors.
Investments that pose a threat to our national security will be blocked.
We are putting China on notice. No longer will the U.S. stand powerless as China exploits the inherent freedom of our economy in order to steal our technology, compromise our security, or threaten our way of life.