TechCrunch wrote recently about a possible complication faced by TuSimple in their upcoming IPO – Chinese investors.
“Sun Dream, an affiliate of Sina Corporation, which runs China’s biggest microblogging platform Sina Weibo..is TuSimple’s largest shareholder, with 20% Class A shares.”
The Committee on Foreign Investment in the US (CFIUS) is raising some concerns, although it’s not yet clear what will come of this case. What is known is that CFIUS has begun raising orders of magnitude more objections to foreign investment in the last few years. The highest-profile recent intervention was the Trump administration’s on-again-off-again insistence that ByteDance divest the US operations of TikTok.
The US government should drop the concerns and welcome China’s investment in self-driving trucks. Hosting TuSimple in the US keeps robotics knowledge in this country, and it enhances the likelihood that world-changing robotics breakthroughs will benefit US citizens.
Between Waymo, Plus, Torc, Embark, Kodiak, and Gatik, there’s no present risk that TuSimple will establish a monopoly on autonomous trucks in any way that threatens the national security United States. That’s not even taking into account Cruise, Argo, or Aurora, much less Nuro or Tesla or GM or Ford or any of the other companies working on autonomous technology that could eventually be repurposed toward trucking.
The Chinese government, controlled by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), has killed more people than any other institution in history. The ongoing genocide against the Uyghurs in western China is nearly unbelievable in the present day, which is part of why I think it just hasn’t registered in the US. The idea that something akin to the Holocaust is happening right now, and nobody is really doing anything about it, is genuinely hard to process.
We should help the Uyghurs, ideally by facilitating immigration to the US and elsewhere. And I’d support holding up TuSimple’s IPO as a bargaining chip to end the Uyghur genocide.
But blocking investment in TuSimple isn’t even meant to reform the CCP. The CFIUS mission is to protect US national security.
Maybe in some hard-to-imagine future TuSimple will start to shape up as a real national security issue. We can deal with the problem then.
And in other situations, far afield from autonomous vehicles, maybe CFIUS should get more involved. Huawei comes to mind as a possibility, although I haven’t studied that situation closely enough to have strong opinions.
But TuSimple is not a national security concern. Instead of intimidating Chinese companies like TuSimple, we should encourage this kind of technology investment in the US.