Chinese government backs China firm suing Obama over wind farm veto

Summary:With the Chinese government's support, SANY Group sues U.S. President Obama for "discrimination" and an unconstitutional presidential order blocking building wind farms near a U.S. Navy base in Oregon.

The Chinese Ministry of Commerce said during its latest press conference on October 19 that the lawsuit filed by the Chinese heavy industry giant SANY Group against U.S. President Obama was an example of Chinese companies protecting their rights against discrimination.

The ministry noted the case of SANY's U.S. affiliated company Ralls Corp. suing the U.S. President and the U.S. Committee on Foreign Investment (CFIUS), stating it was paying attention to the development of the case. The ministry expected a public trial from the U.S. Justice Department, according to the ministry spokesperson Shen Danyang.

SANY Group's U.S.-based affiliate Ralls Corp. entered the U.S. market by installing and operating a 10-megawatt wind farm in Texas. In 2012, Ralls Corp. bought four wind farms in Oregon near a U.S. Navy base from an American company Terna. The U.S. subsidiary invested US$130 million in the deal before the CFIUS order arrived and poured cold water on the project citing "national security" reasons.

The CFIUS submitted an evaluation report about Ralls Corp.'s wind farm acquisition to the White House on September 13, but Obama signed a presidential order to block the deal, according to a Chinese magazine.

"It is not the first time that the U.S. Government turns down a Chinese investment for national security reasons," said Shen, hinting at the recent Huawei and ZTE 'security' controversy . "It is all about political benefits when the politics poke their noses into the bilateral commercial and trade relations. It is a win-win situation for both countries, while the Chinese companies take no advantages of their American counterparts."

Ralls Corp. filed the lawsuit to the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia (Washington D.C.) on October 1, saying that CFIUS and the president's order halting the wind farm project was unconstitutional, and that the projects posed no threat to national security.

The suit also argued that after it agreed to relocate the farms away from the Navy base, CFIUS still blocked the project's go-ahead and banned Ralls Corp. from sell or transferring the wind farm turbines to third-parties, the magazine reported. 

"This is discrimination," said Ralls Corp. chief executive Wu Jialiang in a SANY Group press conference on Thursday. "There are 27 Danish wind power generators near our farms, and also other operational wind farms in this area. The orders are specifically against Chinese companies and discriminatory."

"I think the best way to solve problems in America is through legal procedure," said SANY board member Xiang Wenbo in the conference, "and now we are solving American problems using American laws."

Paul Clement, former U.S. Solicitor General; Viet D. Dinh, former U.S. Assistant Attorney General under President George W. Bush; and former White House legal counselor H. Christopher Bartolomucci were among SANY's legal team.

Topics: China, Government : US

About

Liu Jiayi is a Hong Kong-based writer and editor.He produces video stories for Al Jazeera English and Severn News Australia, and also worked as the video editor for the Hong Kong-San Francisco Ocean Film Festival 2012. He is studying under a Master of Journalism Programme at the University of Hong Kong.

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