Chinese energy firm sues Obama for blocking wind-farm deal

  • @guyadams

A Chinese energy company is suing President Barack Obama for blocking a deal for it to build wind farms on land next to a US military site in Oregon.

The President cited national security concerns when he intervened last week to stop Ralls Corp building turbines near the site, which is apparently used by the Navy to test drones.

Ralls, which is registered in Delaware but owned by two executives from Sany Group, China's largest manufacturer of engineering machinery, says the block is "unlawful".

Legal experts say the lawsuit has little chance of success. President Obama has broad powers regarding national security. And he issued the order on the recommendation of his government's Committee on Foreign Investments in the United States.

But the timing of the controversy is pertinent, since America's relationship with China is an election issue. The Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney often accuses Beijing of manipulating its currency to keep imports cheap, arguing that the President takes too soft a line.

China's state-run news agency, Xinhua, claims the move against Sany was a cynical pre-election ploy and accuses the President of "China-bashing … to woo some blue-collar voters".

The White House rarely blocks foreign investment, though in 2006 the acquisition of several American ports by Dubai Ports World, a company based in the United Arab Emirates, provoked widespread debate.

At the time, President Bush backed the deal on free-trade grounds. But many in Congress thought it could threaten security. Eventually Dubai Ports World agreed to sell its US assets to the ill-fated financial giant AIG.