Over the weekend it was announced that China's largest auto-parts maker will purchase a majority of A123 Systems, a now-bankrupt U.S. electric car battery manufacturer. A123, a major supplier to U.S. automakers, had received $124 million of a $249 million federal grant from the Department of Energy.
In response to the deal, Investigations and Oversight Subcommittee Chairman Paul Broun (R-GA) made the following statement:
"It is exceedingly frustrating to stand by and watch the fruits of our taxpayer-funded research and development (R&D) get shipped overseas to a Chinese firm. In our hearing last week, witnesses testified that American R&D investments are commonly transferred to foreign nations. In this case, taxpayers provided $124 million to A123, and now China will ultimately manufacture and sell any technologies that may have been derived from this investment. It is a dirty cycle; we borrow money from China, use it to fund R&D in America, and then watch as the benefits of that research are reaped on foreign soil."
Last week, the Committee on Science, Space, and Technology Subcommittee on Investigations and Oversight held a hearing to examine issues related to international technology transfers, focusing specifically on American R&D benefitting foreign nations. Witnesses discussed varying methods by which domestic technology and intellectual property are transferred to foreign countries, as well as the overall scope of such efforts and potential ways to limit such activity.