Technology Theft

In a piece on American CEOs’ (and Apple’s in particular) cowardice in their dealings with the People’s Republic of China’s government—censor your stuff or you can’t operate in the PRC, give up your technology to or you can’t operate in the PRC, and these worthies meekly comply—comes this reminder on the latter bit:

Just about everybody in the US capital is complaining about how China forces foreign companies to give up technology in return for market access.

In truth, the PRC isn’t alone in this: willing participants are those American CEOs who acquiesce in the name of short-term profit rather than long-term gain.

This collusion (is that a word?  Can I use it?) is especially irritating in the Apple case given CEO Tim Cook’s willingness to stand up to the US government over decrypting an Apple smartphone used by the San Bernardino terrorists.  Cook is willing to collude with the PRC, but he’s not willing to collaborate with our own government.  He was right in the terrorist case, too….

It’s time to inject some backbone into these CEOs.  The Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, which is used to pass on or to block acquisition of American companies by foreign investors if the resulting technology transfer would harm our national security.  CFIUS needs to be broadened with the authority similarly to pass on American companies doing business in foreign jurisdictions if the resulting technology transfer would harm our national security.

Worried about other nations’ companies getting in in place of American ones?  We’re proud of our technology lead over the rest of the world, and justifiably so.  Even were those other nations’ companies actually able to fill the vacuum of the absence of ours, that would just leave the PRC to extort access to second best.

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