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Fears of lack of competitiveness drive EV scare story, not national security: China Daily editorial

Fears of lack of competitiveness drive EV scare story, not national security: China Daily editorial

The United States has expanded its so-called technology de-risking to Chinese electric vehicles, with the Joe Biden administration ordering an investigation into the potential "national security" risks of Chinese EVs.

Following a Feb 28 presidential executive order to deny "countries of concern" access to bulk sensitive personal data, the US Commerce Department now has its sights set on electric vehicles with Chinese technologies. The Biden administration wants to develop regulations, or restrictions, to address what it alleges are the security risks posed by Chinese EVs.

"It doesn't take a lot of imagination to think of how a foreign government with access to connected vehicles could pose a serious risk to both the country's national security and the personal privacy of US citizens," said Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo. In a Friday news release, her department identified China as presenting "a particularly acute and persistent threat".

To back up her scaremongering, she presented the imagining of a future in which there are millions of Chinese connected cars on US roads collecting the data on millions of Americans "every minute of every day" and sending that data back to Beijing. It is "scary to contemplate the cyber risks, espionage risks, that these pose", Raimondo said. She, like so many in Washington, sees Beijing as a foreign adversary capable of and with the intent to inflict harm on the US so it can take its place as world leader.

But there is another dimension to the "national security" threat narrative that paints a truer picture of US fears. Namely the economic competition between the two countries. As multiple Biden government officials have acknowledged, this is only a first step in the administration's bid to keep consumer-friendly Chinese EVs from "flooding" the US market, potentially driving US automakers out of business. "I'm not going to let that happen on my watch," Biden said.

Chinese EVs are no doubt a challenge for the Biden administration's attempt to help struggling US automakers. The US president has felt the pressure from Donald Trump, his immediate predecessor and possible rival in the November presidential election. Biden needs to appear tougher.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Mao Ning accused the US of "trade protectionism". But this is not the protectionism of the past, which was less damaging without today's "national security" fearmongering, which is enabling the Biden administration to tighten the screws to such a marked degree.

Those spreading fears of China launching cyberattacks on US infrastructure via smart devices may want to count how many Teslas are running on Chinese roads and how many iPhones are being used by Chinese consumers.

Following their logic to its natural conclusion, the only way to address "security" concerns is to shut the doors of trade against each other completely. That will not serve the US' interests and those crying wolf about Chinese threats know it.

Read More: Here

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