The FBI and a U.S. government panel that investigates foreign investment are looking at accusations of illegal technology transfer to China from a young aircraft company.
The news came from The Wall Street Journal, which cited knowledgeable sources and documents that it examined.
The case involves Icon Aircraft, the Vacaville, Calif., producer of small recreational planes that can land and take off from water or land.
At issue is an equity stake in Icon held by Shanghai Pudong Science & Technology Investment Co., an investment concern backed by China’s government.
The stake is 47%, making Shanghai Pudong the company’s biggest shareholder, according to The Journal.
Some U.S. shareholders allege that the Chinese firm has gutted the company and sent its technology to China. The Americans claim the technology has potential military applications, the Journal reports.
The shareholders asked the U.S. Committee on Foreign Investment to investigate the situation. Cfius, a multiagency group that recommends whether the president should veto deals with foreign companies, began doing so in November, the Journal’s sources and documents indicated.
Meanwhile, the Federal Bureau of Investigation is looking into possible criminal violations stemming from the technology transfer.
The probes come as relations between the U.S. and China deteriorate, with the U.S. protesting Chinese human rights violations in Xinjiang province and Hong Kong, alleged Chinese trade violations and its aggressive stance on Taiwan.
The two countries are in a pitched battle over developing important technologies for the economy and military.