A Chinese company will take charge of sensitive military and battery technology following the Treasury Department’s decision on Tuesday to permit the sale of a U.S. company that was bankrolled with tax dollars to the Shanghai-based Wanxiang firm.
The Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) approved the $256 million sale of A123 Systems’ operation, despite warnings from military insiders and lawmakers on Capitol Hill that the sale presents a danger to national security.
A123 Systems, which went bankrupt despite the Obama administrations’ $249 million in green energy funding to produce advanced lithium ion batteries, controls 91 patents for the sensitive technology.
“The approved sale marks yet another step in the coordinated strategy by foreign countries to acquire leading U.S. companies who are researching, developing and producing critical technologies,” said Dean Popps, co-chairman of the Strategic Materials Advisory Council. “CFIUS itself has recognized this strategy but continues to fail to do anything to prevent it.” The committee has not made public its rationale for the decision.
The decision signals a reversal from President Barack Obama’s inaugural day pledge not to “cede to other nations’ critical energy technology,” Popps said.
“Far from protecting America’s lead, as the president promised on the west front of the Capitol, his administration has just allowed China to leapfrog the world in advanced batteries at the expense of American taxpayers,” Popps said.
The cutting edge technology is the preferred tool used in satellite systems; military vehicles, the power grid and telecommunication systems and can withstand high heat and extremely cold temperatures.
The deal was also questioned by Capitol Hill lawmakers who warned the acquisition presents considerable risks, and Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) introduced legislation requiring safeguards on future decisions by the committee.
Battery maker A123 is one of 36 green companies that were awarded federal dollars from the Energy Department but are now facing bankruptcy or are laying off workers, including Solyndra, Evergreen Solar, Beacon Power, SunPower and SpectraWatt.