CFIUS (The Committee on Foreign Investments in the United States) has been SELLING AMERICAN TECH ADVANCEMENTS TO CHINA FOR YEARS. CFIUS is charged with making sure that foreign acquisitions of American firms do not present a threat to U.S. national security. CFIUS, in theory, could be a valuable tool to curb Chinese investments in America, a central concern for the Trump administration, but those who have followed and worked with the committee see the CFIUS process faltering.
“I don’t know who’s in charge of CFIUS,” said Derek Scissors, a China expert American Enterprise Institute who regularly works for the committee. “I haven’t heard about CFIUS in any systematic fashion. I’ve seen no strategy or cohesion in the Trump administration” when it comes to running the committee.
In the past, CFIUS has found itself in the middle of controversies over foreign acquisitions of American companies. In 2006, the committee approved a deal that would have shifted management of six American ports to DP World, a state-owned Dubai company seeking to manage some terminal operations. The House of Representatives later rejected the transfer because it would have given oversight of important American infrastructure to an Arab country.
But in recent years, as Chinese investment in American companies has increased, its most high-profile cases have involved Beijing. Administration officials have recently indicated that might like to see CFIUS strengthened.
Administration officials have said they want the ability to more specifically target transactions from Russia and China. Defense Secretary James Mattis recently told the Senate Armed Services Committee that CFIUS is out of date and that change is needed to recognize China’s interest in American technology. “It needs to be updated to deal with today’s situation,” Mattis told lawmakers earlier this month.
Similarly, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said at a Wall Street Journal-hosted event that CFIUS was “weak” in some areas, and the process needed to be strengthened to focus on critical technologies, like semiconductors. U.S. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin has also talked about wanting to strengthen CFIUS.
Yet attorneys and former officials see a more fundamental weakness in CFIUS in the lack of staffing. The committee has nine members, including the secretaries of commerce, defense, energy, homeland security, state, and treasury; the attorney general; the U.S. trade representative; and the director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy. The last position is unfilled, as are many of the lower-level political appointees in other departments who would normally be involved in CFIUS.
Key positions, like the assistant secretary of the treasury for international markets and development, remain vacant; President Donald Trump has nominated Heath Tarbert for the position, but he’s yet to be confirmed.
The problem, according James Lewis, an expert on military technology at the Center for Security and International Studies, is that the positions needed to move cases along have yet to be appointed. “There is no one between the committee and the secretary,” Lewis said.
👉 Steve Hilton of "The Next Revolution"
👉 From foreignpolicy.com ...
"The Lights Are on at the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, but Nobody Is Home"