Elon Musk’s SpaceX NASA Contracts Threaten Tesla China Relations – tech2.org

Elon Musk’s SpaceX NASA Contracts Threaten Tesla China Relations


Congress negotiators are considering whether NASA’s contracts awarded to Elon Musk’s SpaceX represent a potential national security risk due to Chinese financial support for the billionaire owner’s electric car company Tesla.
“What is there to prevent them from going straight to the musk,” said a Congressional Republican aide, “unless you give us X, Y or Z,” we’ll call your line of credit soon. The law governing the space agency. “And, there is no real clarity that there is any kind of mechanism that will prevent one person from other than good behavior.”
This question underscores the suspicion that has been routed through Washington and Beijing, where national security officials prosecute intense geopolitical rivalry through economic means. China’s condemnation for intellectual property theft has also created uncertainty for US captains such as Musk, a pioneer of federal government contracts such as private-sector spaceflight and electric cars.
“I am concerned that Chinese companies may come to the US, make a sweet deal, take sensitive information, take proprietary technology and use it as their own space program in China, their own national security efforts. To prosper, ”Colorado Sen. A Republican member of the Commerce Committee, Corey Gardner reported Washington Examiner.
Therefore, Gardner, who chairs the Foreign Relations Subcommittee for East Asia, offered two amendments addressing that risk. The first will review the Government Accountability Office of NASA contractors for potential ties to China, while the second advises NASA leaders to “keep those ties in mind” when awarding contracts. “The level of concern I’m hearing from companies that are in the US and worried about this,” Gardner said.
The amendments have reduced viewership for an American company that works with NASA being “leveraged” by the Chinese Communist Party due to “significant financial support” from Beijing. Gardner’s proposals made headlines not only for aerospace companies that have direct links to China-related cash, but also “on companies in the United States that share ownership with NASA contractors” – the language that ensures China Broadens the scope of the review to establish US “shell companies” to avoid scrutiny.
Such a law could put SpaceX at a disadvantage given that Tesla of Musk acquired a credit line of about $ 1.4 billion from Chinese state-owned banks in December. Small wonder that the United Launch Alliance, which is one of SpaceX’s main rivals for contracts to launch the federal government’s satellites and spacecraft, urged Gardner to introduce the bill according to congressional sources familiar with the process did.
The first Congress Republican aide said, “It is clearly self-interested because they are competitive, but that does not mean that it is not a legitimate concern.” “It’s like a classic dynamic, isn’t it? An established provider, an established interest, which is challenged by an upward interest … If there was no SpaceX, ULA would prefer it because ULA would get more contracts. This does not mean that the question is not worth asking and answering, however. ”
Multiple congressional aides insisted that the law not be narrowly tailored to apply to Musk’s companies. A Senate Republican aide said there are elements of Chinese investment in at least seven aerospace companies that will raise red flags, like Tencent, the social media company said President Trump’s administration has targeted in recent months.
Gardner’s team received input from ULA. “It’s just the responsible vet,” a Gardner aide said. “But to say that something Ulla gave us and it’s an ULA-space X [fight reveals] There is a lack of recognition of what the real issue is. ”
Gardner said he was surprised that the committee, which was unanimously voted out of the committee, became controversial in recent weeks. “I see these provisions as beautiful monumental preservation of our space programs and space technologies,” Gardner said in a recent interview.
Nevertheless, two congressional sources familiar with the legislative process said that many lawmakers worried that Gardner’s original proposal for NASA to “take China into account” was too vague to be implemented by China.
The negotiators have proposed an agreement that would establish a self-certification process for companies that no Chinese entity is a minority owner. Negotiations on how to implement that process are deadlocked. Gardner’s team wants the bill to ban a male banquet for at least one year from NASA’s contract, as well as authorizing NASA to extend that ban for 10 years. Washington Canton, Maria Cantwell, the top Democrat on the Commerce Committee, would rather rely on current legislation punishing deception in such cases – in part because existing laws afford NASA the discretion to retaliate companies if necessary.
As lawmakers consider the best way to protect NASA’s secrets, the national security debate has provided ammunition to the great powers of the space industry for their own heavy weight. For example, Musk called for the removal of Crimea’s Russians from Ukraine to discourage Senate appropriators from relying on Yulia, noting that his rival rocket used a Russian-made engine.
A space industry executive said, “You live by wrapping yourself in a flag, you sometimes die by being wrapped in a flag.” “Elon is just a strategy used against our own. And I promise you that if Elon can find his Chinese angle to use against ULA, he will do so. ”

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