April 23, 2024

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How likely are US fears that China will remotely shut down electric cars altogether?  |  Abroad

How likely are US fears that China will remotely shut down electric cars altogether? | Abroad

The US has warned that cars made in China could be disabled at the touch of a button. Cars can cause a lot of chaos on American highways. However, experts suspect that economic interests are mainly behind this warning.

“Imagine if thousands or hundreds of thousands of China-linked cars on American roads were immediately and simultaneously disabled by someone in Beijing,” said US Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo. So she wants to investigate how sensor-laden and Internet-connected vehicles could be used to spy, collect data on American citizens, or wreak havoc on American roads.

While hackers have shown it is possible to remotely disable internet-connected vehicles or transmit data from cameras, Raimondo's claim should be seen as another attack on – and more specifically – the burgeoning Chinese car industry. The claim of total chaos due to parking of cars at the same time is quite absurd. After all, towing these cars is possible in a few hours and can take a whole day, but what does China gain from this?

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Chinese product: one zikr. © Ziegr

The real reason is that car manufacturers like BYD and Geely have become major global players in car manufacturing – especially when it comes to electric vehicles. They have their own cargo ships through which they deliver cars all over the world. On the other hand, US automakers have not met their electric vehicle sales targets. Many Chinese manufacturers produce cars, especially electric cars, more efficiently and profitably than their American counterparts, with billions in federal government support.

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China is advancing in America

In addition, Chinese automakers including BYD, MG and Chery plan to manufacture their cheap electric vehicles in Mexico. This allows them to take advantage of North American trade agreements and avoid 27.5 percent import duties on imported Chinese cars. “China is determined to dominate the future of the auto market, including through unfair practices,” US President Biden said. “I will not allow that under my watch.” His argument that this would endanger national security seems a bit far-fetched.

The U.S. investigations could also be seen as a response to China's earlier restrictions on U.S. company vehicles equipped with cameras. For example, Teslas are reportedly not allowed to drive in military- and government-affiliated areas, including meeting rooms and exhibition centers. However, the investigation threatens to further escalate tensions between the US and China. If the White House's move leads to trade restrictions, there could be countermeasures from Beijing.

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