By The Tribune-Review
Published: Sunday, Jan. 13, 2013, 8:53 p.m.
Fully safeguarding advanced battery technology critical to U.S. military applications and power and communications grids against nefarious use by China requires the Obama administration to forbid its bankrupt U.S. maker's sale to a Chinese firm tied to China's government.
Wanxiang Group won a December auction for battery-maker A123, which went bankrupt in October — despite Washington pouring $250 million in taxpayers' money into its research. Led by the Treasury Department, the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States could rule on the sale this month, The Washington Free Beacon reports.
Wanxiang — a major Midwest property owner and employer for nearly two decades — has agreed to allow U.S. firm Navitas Systems to buy A123's government business, including defense contracts. But any resulting sense of enhanced security would be false — sensitive applications of A123's battery technology are inseparable from other applications.
Allowing Wanxiang to acquire A123 would leave the U.S. military dependent on a supply chain that Beijing could cut off, as it did Japan's supply of rare-earth minerals. U.S. infrastructure would be vulnerable to Chinese cyber attacks. And Chinese military forces and satellites would be enhanced.
What the foreign investment committee must do is obvious: Prohibit this deal — period. It's the only way to ensure that A123's U.S.-funded, U.S.-developed advanced battery technology aids only America and its allies, not increasingly hostile China.
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