If you’re an investor you may want to steer clear of a small California-based manufacturer of amphibious and small recreational planes going by the handle of Icon Aircraft Inc. Your interest in such a venture could never rival that of the FBI considering how 47% of the company is owned by a known government-backed Chinese investment firm.
Icon Aircraft is a startup company that has yet to gain any substantial notoriety, yet accusations against them are already flying off the shelf. Icon has been accused of improperly transferring American technology straight into the anxiously awaiting hands of gov’t officials in Beijing.
As an interagency panel, the Committee on Foreign Investment in the U.S. (Cfius), can’t force Biden, or any president, to cut off all dealings with a company based on its findings of it presenting a national security concern, but they can sure as heck strongly suggest it.
Cfius hasn’t tried forcing its hand yet and it’s hard to say which direction they’ll take. At present, they’re busy conducting a thorough investigation into Shanghai Pudong Science and Technology Investment Co., or PDSTI, so they can flop the facts on Biden’s desk and see which way the old man wants to go.
The accusations against PDSTI came from U.S. shareholders. They say the Chinese investment firm is embedded so deeply that it’s been able to access technology and transfer to it China. This far exceeds a shareholder’s role.
There isn’t anything routine about the data the investment firm is transferring either. According to Cfius, Icon’s advanced technology could easily be adapted for military applications. According to Icon’s lawyer, it can’t be. Can you see the problem here?
The investigation is expected to wrap up in February and Icon’s lawyer will tell you he’s been nothing outside of fully cooperative with the probe. This may be acceptable for the investigators at Cfius, but the FBI says horse-puckey. They’re taking their own peek into the goings-on.
The FBI isn’t as concerned with what Cfius casually refers to as an improper transference as they are with downright illegal criminal activity of the international variety. They aren’t coating anything with chemically derived artificial sweetening enhancers.
Cfius’s lame probe underscores the U.S.’s heightened scrutiny of where the Chinese are spreading their yen around the U.S., and their motives for doing so. When two superpowers are arm wrestling for world domination in the fields of technology, economic stature, and military might, and they hate each other, if something smells like a wet market on a rainy day, it’s worthy of more than a brief gander.
Here’s how these types of things begin. In 2006, Icon was born to a former Air Force pilot who also did a stint at Stanford University as a product-design lecturer. Nothing unusual about that. Good on him.
He designed the carbon-fiber plane the company builds today. The plane is unique in that its wings are foldable and it can take off and land on water. The carbon fiber makes the plane lightweight, amazingly easy to maneuver, durable, and capable of easily weaseling undetected into war zones and dropping explosives. But only should it be slightly modified to carry out this deadly function, which was not the designer’s intent.
Since the Chinese have eyes everywhere, what they initially saw was a struggling company with a great idea but a different purpose. The owner just wanted people to have fun.
Enter PDSTI. It’s their contention that it was their investment that saved Icon from obscurity, and they could be absolutely correct. Icon, unaware of their new investor having direct ties to the Chinese government, gladly said “welcome aboard.”
And this brings us to where the entire mess stands today. Icon Aircraft is but one small fish in a giant koi pond and regardless of what the FBI turns up, the fault won’t lie with them. They were scammed by the pros. And it’s happening more every day as under Biden’s lack of leadership more and more American companies are on the brink of falling victim to a fledging economy. But not to worry…the Chinese will happily save their livelihoods.