Tech Export Review Is Completely Inadequate

March 28, 2018

Contrary to the inference by IBM ’s Christopher Padilla and GE’s Karan Bhatia (Letters, WSJ.com, March 16), in the very first paragraph of “How China Pushes the Limits on Military Technology Transfer” (WSJ.com, March 14) I clearly state that IBM and GE’s business dealings with China are legally permissible under current law. And that’s the problem. Their legal joint ventures with Chinese state-owned enterprises openly transferred dual-use technologies to China and created unnecessary risks related to the transfer of additional military-applicable technologies.

[Robert Pittinger | March 25, 2018 | WSJ]

This, along with the substantial pushback from GE and IBM when open-source information on their business dealings was published in the Journal, underscores the vital need for an updated and strengthened Committee on Foreign Investment in the U.S. (Cfius) to better review future joint ventures and foreign investments that threaten U.S. national security.

My Cfius reform bill, the Foreign Investment Risk Review Modernization Act, has been endorsed by the White House, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, Senate and House Intelligence Chairs Richard Burr and Devin Nunes, and hundreds of defense experts, generals, elected officials and private businesses. This is a serious piece of bipartisan, bicameral national security legislation drafted in consultation with Cfius member agencies, Treasury, Defense, Justice, the military and the intelligence community. Our bill is laser-focused on national security concerns, and we have given substantial effort to working with businesses to address legitimate, nonsecurity-related issues that could inadvertently be affected. This needs to be a bill that works.

Despite the national security ramifications, GE and IBM have deployed an army of well-connected D.C. lobbyists to derail our legislation and safeguard the status quo. A substantial, bipartisan group in the House and Senate believes it is dangerous to allow China to acquire sensitive, military-applicable technology through strategic business transactions. GE and IBM, through their recent actions, are loudly in favor of allowing China to continue on the present course.

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