Recent purchases by a Chinese automaker raise the prospect of China being able to interfere with our transport system.
Geely automotive (Zhejiang Geely Holding Group)—a Chinese global automotive group headquartered in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province, China—owns many recognizable brands such as Volvo cars and Lotus. Geely is also the largest shareholder of Volvo Group which owns Volvo Trucks, Mack Trucks (formerly an independent American company), Renault Trucks, Dongfeng, Volvo Busses, and Volvo Construction equipment.
Geely’s Founder and Chairman, Li Shufu, has recently been on an acquisition spree and has been buying large stakes in numerous automotive and truck companies across the globe. Li, who likes to move quickly and stealthily, used shell companies last year to acquire a 10 percent stake in the German automaker Daimler, the maker of Mercedes Benz cars, among other brands. This maneuver caught German regulators off guard and prompted an inquiry into the move. But how does Geely move so freely in a communist-controlled state?
The Financial Times explored this question and was able to draw some tenuous ties involving Li Shufu’s wife, Peng Lijuan, who shares a name with the younger sister of China’s first lady. This possible connection promoted the Times to ask if Li Shufu is married to President Xi’s sister-in-law. No admission or denial was provided to the Times in the March 2018 article. In October of that year, Reuters published a story in which a Geely spokesperson denied the connection
Nevertheless, the Chinese giant that is Geely certainly has the support of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), as Geely’s recent German financial stake was meant to “support the growth of the Chinese auto industry.” Meaning, Geely has the support of Beijing and the leverage of Chinese-state-owned banks that easily provide financial support to make these transactions happen quickly and, in most cases, quietly.
These acquisitions mean Geely and China are rapidly acquiring intellectual property and the technological know-how of many of the world’s largest automotive and transport brands, companies that spent decades building and engineering safe, reliable technology.
Just this past spring we heard from Volvo Group that Volvo trucks was looking to establish closer ties to the Chinese. “At the time it took the stake in Volvo trucks, Geely said it sought to contribute to electrification, autonomous driving and connectivity to boost development,” according to Bloomberg news.
This revelation is concerning for a number of reasons. First, Geely will learn the intellectual property of Volvo Group, as they are very much open about their interests in contributing to autonomous driving technology and connectivity development.
Volvo trucks website explains many of their remote programing capabilities and highlights their cloud-based telematics that allow their trucks to be tracked, provide tools to inform drivers of engine or service issues, and cloud data that can help drivers stay safe on the road. But what if that information or remote technology was used against our transit system?
Four years ago 60 Minutes showcased how cars could be remotely hacked. What is stopping China from manipulating our lines of transport, especially when China (Geely) already has the keys to the castle?
We know that China treats the United States as an adversary. China having these capabilities exposes an opening that could be exploited at any time.
Concerns about cybersecurity and telematics protection have been raised by the U.S. General Services Administration as it relates to the federal government’s procurement of medium and heavy-duty trucks.
These types of security concerns should be raised by our Commerce Department, if they were not already addressed in the department’s 232 report on the national security issues raised by auto and auto part imports into the United States that was delivered to the White House in February (but whose findings have not been made public).
Our nation’s transport lines are vital to our livelihood as they deliver food, medical supplies, and goods and services. An attempt from China to hack our systems should be a concern. So, too should possible attempts to cut off supply lines for parts that are made in China and shipped here for final assembly. Preventing these types of attacks on our society should be important to lawmakers on both sides of the aisle.
Businesses large and small can also protect themselves by investing in American companies. Companies that build American trucks like PACCAR, which owns Peterbilt and Kenworth. These companies are not beholden to Chinese financing and are certainly not building their trucks in China.
Beijing is devoted to pursuing the “China dream,” which is basically world dominance militarily and economically by the middle of the century, according to Lt. Col. Maginnis. This should cause everyone to take a second to consider their business operations in China. Certainly, many have made their bed in China—like Volvo. But maybe that presents an opportunity for American-made companies to rise up and change the course of our business dealings.
President Donald Trump is certainly doing everything he can to ensure America gets a better deal with China.
As reported by The Epoch Times, China is the world’s leading human rights abuser and polluter of our environment. They devalue their currency, silence a free press, and deny the freedom to follow one’s own religious beliefs.
Doing business with the CCP and communist banks only helps further the “China dream”—we must do better as a society and recognize these potential security concerns before its too late.
Jon Toomey, a former Legislative Counsel for a U.S. House of Representatives Ways and Means member and current Government Relations Director for an American trucking conglomerate. Follow Jon on twitter @j_toomey1
Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.