Both Conservatives and Liberals have expressed unease about corporations that, despite being based within the United States, have little or no loyalty to their home country.
American companies have been forced to give trade secrets to the Chinese government in order to do business in that nation. At times, of course, this has been done at the behest of some politicians.
Roger Vadum, writing for the Capital Research Center explains:
“As president, Bill Clinton essentially wiped out any strategic advantage the U.S. had by selling advanced U.S. missile technology to our enemy, the People’s Republic of China. […] The Clinton administration accepted millions of dollars from the military and intelligence services of at least one hostile foreign power. All of this was done in exchange for illegal campaign contributions from a massive totalitarian country determined to eclipse the U.S. as a world superpower. […] President Clinton also lifted security controls, allowing thieves to access other vital military technologies, while disarming his own side and opposing needed defenses. […] Back in the 1990s […] longtime Clinton bagman Terry McAuliffe, now governor of Virginia, set records raising money for the Clintons. In that era congressional investigators unearthed an elaborate Communist Chinese money-laundering scheme.”
The acquiescence of some corporations to transfer data, or kowtow to practices that violate human rights, in order to gain market share within nations ruled by authoritarian governments, China being the prime example, continues.
Current corporate inappropriate interaction with hostile powers differs from the Clinton-era scandal. A key player in this issue is Facebook. David Shepardson, in a Reuters report notes:
“Facebook Inc (FB.O) said Tuesday it has data sharing partnerships with at least four Chinese companies including Huawei, the world’s third largest smartphone maker, which has come under scrutiny from U.S. intelligence agencies on security concerns. […] Chinese telecommunications companies have come under scrutiny from U.S. intelligence officials who argue they provide an opportunity for foreign espionage and threaten critical U.S. infrastructure…”
Google, another major internet-based giant, has proven to be a disloyal corporate citizen for other reasons. The most important military technology battlefield today is in the field of artificial intelligence. However, as reported by Douglas MacMillan in the Wall Street Journal notes:
“Google won’t allow its artificial-intelligence products to be used in military weapons […] Google […] has recently come under criticism from its own employees for supplying image-recognition technology to the U.S. Department of Defense, in a partnership called Project Maven. Google told employees earlier this month it wouldn’t seek to renew its contract for Project Maven, […] that decision in turn was blasted by some who said the company shouldn’t be conflicted about supporting national security. […] Google’s YouTube, along with Facebook Inc. and Twitter Inc., were criticized over the past year for failing to prevent a Russian campaign to use their services to sway the results of the U.S. election…Google was questioned by U.S. lawmakers […] who are looking into the company’s relationship with Chinese tech giants. Sen. Mark Warner (D., Va.) on Thursday asked Alphabet Inc. and Twitter Inc. about data-sharing with Chinese vendors, including Xiaomi and Tencent Holdings Google’s relationship with China’s Huawei Technologies Co., part of Washington’s escalating digital Cold War with Beijing.”
It’s vitally important to read between the lines. Are companies like Google, as well as Facebook, reluctant to assist the U.S. government, or give fair access and provide objective search results to pro-defense conservatives in the hopes of appeasing China and gaining access to its vast market?
If that power were used on behalf of an American enemy in return for access to that nation’s markets, it could be devastating. The issue is coming to a head as part of the White House’s push to eliminate unfair tariffs and trade practices.
Frank Vernuccio serves as editor-in-chief of the New York Analysis of Policy & Government