It is a regular occurrence. Every few months, the Lansing Senator Debbie Stabenow rushes to the aid of GM and Ford and defends them against the nasty Chinese. The problem is: GM and Ford don’t want or need her help.
Yesterday, Stabenow fired another of her regular letters to U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk, and complained “about a recently reported Chinese trade practice that would be a clear violation of World Trade Organization (WTO) rules.” Says the letter (full text here):
“China’s actions are part of a disturbing trend where China demands American advanced-technology product secrets in order for those products to be sold in the world’s second largest market. In contrast, the United States—the world’s largest market—follows the rules and allows Chinese products to be sold freely. Many Americans rightly believe that China is playing us for fools: China gets to access our large market, while our products face numerous restrictions and outright intellectual property theft.”
There are a few troubles with Stabenow’s complaint.
One, Debbie does not know what Debbie is talking about. She has her information from the New York Times, which “recently reported that China is attempting to pressure American automakers, including General Motors and Ford, to transfer core technologies of their electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles to Chinese companies, in order for those vehicles to qualify for China’s clean energy vehicle incentive program.“ Don’t Senators usually have better sources? The CIA? The U.S. Embassy in Beijing? China Daily? Wikileaks?
Two, no official policies have been announced in China. It looks like China will be happy if foreign joint ventures will build Chinese EVs under “Chinese” brands to keep up Chinese appearances. Nobody is talking about handing over technologies. And even that is unclear until the law is finally announced.
Three, both GM and Ford, signal desperately: “Please, stop helping us!”
“Both GM and Ford said they have no plans to build electric vehicles in China.
Ford spokeswoman Meghan Keck said the matter wasn’t an issue for the company.
“We appreciate Senator Stabenow’s continued support of our industry. However, the issues she raised apply to electric vehicles, which we do not currently sell or produce in China,” Keck said.
GM spokesman Greg Martin said the company has no plans to build the Chevrolet Volt in China. “
Should’t Ms. Stabenow at least ask Ford and GM whether they require assistance from their Senator?