How an L.A. auto legend’s China venture crashed

Elva Mankin

An S1 sports car is parked at the entrance to the Jiangsu Saleen auto plant in Rugao, China. <span class="copyright">(Saleen Automotive Inc.)</span>
An S1 sports car is parked at the entrance to the Jiangsu Saleen auto plant in Rugao, China. (Saleen Automotive Inc.)

Last July, Steve Saleen, the Southern California designer of souped-up Ford Mustangs and eponymous supercars, walked onto a strobe-lit stage at Beijing National Stadium to launch a new line of vehicles for the Chinese market.

During a 90-minute spectacle featuring techno beats, mesh-clad dancers and an appearance by the British action star Jason Statham, Saleen introduced himself as an automotive legend whose partnership with Chinese state investors would inject “supercar DNA” into high-end sedans, coupes and an SUV aimed at younger drivers.

A year later, that flashy vision has veered disastrously off track.

Saleen’s Chinese backers have accused his business partner of fraud and embezzlement and taken over the company, freezing its accounts and forcing hundreds of employees out of work. Police raided the sprawling new factory emblazoned with

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Trump’s TikTok and WeChat Ban Could Backfire Inside China

Elva Mankin

Photo Illustration by Kelly Caminero/The Daily Beast/Getty
Photo Illustration by Kelly Caminero/The Daily Beast/Getty

HONG KONG—As Donald Trump moves to ban transactions with WeChat and ByteDance, the parent company of TikTok, people in China are wondering if they’ll need to ditch their iPhones to keep their favorite app, and noting that the White House’s splinternet rhetoric is straight out of Beijing’s own playbook. 

Trump’s moves against ByteDance and Tencent’s WeChat strike at two tech companies deeply entrenched in China’s social life—and, in WeChat’s case, critical to the consumer reach of American companies inside China. 

ByteDance’s TikTok, the popular short video platform that in the past weeks was in the crosshairs of Trump and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, has been one of the most downloaded apps globally for two years—even though TikTok cannot be used in China legally due to its home country’s fractured internet governance policy.  And WeChat, a “super app” that blends messaging, social network

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Trump moves on China apps may create new internet ‘firewall’

Elva Mankin

A ban by President Donald Trump’s administration on Chinese mobile apps such as TikTok and WeChat risks fragmenting an already fragile global internet and creating an American version of China’s “Great Firewall.”

Fears about the global internet ecosystem intensified this week with Trump’s executive orders banning the popular video app TikTok and Chinese social network WeChat, following a US government directive to prohibit the use of other “untrusted” applications and services from China.

The restrictions announced on the basis of what Trump called national security threats move further away from the long-promoted American ideal of a global, open internet and could invite other countries to follow suit, analysts said.

“It’s really an attempt to fragment the internet and the global information society along US and Chinese lines, and shut China out of the information economy,” said Milton Mueller, a Georgia Tech University professor and founder of the Internet Governance Project.

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Trump’s WeChat Ban Brings Cold War With China Into a Billion Homes

Elva Mankin

(Bloomberg) — With the stroke of a pen, Donald Trump made his strategic fight with China hit home for potentially billions of people — generating confusion, panic and fear around the globe.

The U.S. president’s move to ban the Chinese-owned TikTok and WeChat in just over six weeks from now sent shockwaves through the tech industry and the many American businesses who rely on the apps to sell goods in China.

The decision also spurred alarm on Chinese social media, with WeChat users in the U.S. posting contact information so friends and family could reach them if the app disappeared. An online forum popular with stock investors asked users if they would give up their iPhones or WeChat if Apple Inc. eliminated the app from its store: They voted to ditch their phones by a margin of 20 to one.

Of all Trump’s shots against China, from imposing tariffs to

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There is still no proof TikTok is spying on you for China

Elva Mankin

TikTok, the app beloved by Generation Z, might get booted out of the US.
TikTok, the app beloved by Generation Z, might get booted out of the US.

Jon Kopaloff/Getty Images

  • The Trump administration is forcing TikTok to sell off its US business by September 15 or else face a ban, accusing it of posing a privacy and national security threat because it is owned by a Chinese company.

  • The administration has explicitly claimed TikTok spies on people but has never offered public evidence.

  • Experts diving through TikTok’s code and policies say the app collects user data in a similar way to Facebook and other popular social apps.

  • Google and Facebook by comparison almost certainly hoover up more user data than TikTok through their sprawling number of apps and services — but get less US political scrutiny on privacy.

  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

TikTok, the video-sharing app whose meteoric rise amongst teenage users has made it a challenger to the likes

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China Vows Retaliation After U.S. Shutters Houston Consulate

Elva Mankin

(Bloomberg) — China vowed retaliation after the U.S. forced the closure of its Houston consulate, in one of the biggest threats to diplomatic ties between the countries in decades.

The U.S. government gave China three days to close its consulate in America’s fourth-most populous city in an “unprecedented escalation,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said Wednesday in Beijing. China planned to “react with firm countermeasures” if the Trump administration didn’t “revoke this erroneous decision,” Wang said.

The State Department said it ordered the consulate shut “to protect American intellectual property and Americans’ private information,” without giving more details. At least two Chinese citizens have been convicted of stealing energy industry trade secrets in Houston in recent years. The consulate is one of five China maintains in the U.S. along with its embassy in Washington.

Asked for specifics on why the consulate was being closed, Secretary of State Michael Pompeo responded

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China State Funds Start Selling in Warning Sign for Stock Rally

Elva Mankin

(Bloomberg) — China acted to cool the speculative frenzy in its $9.5 trillion stock market, ending a euphoric eight-day surge that had fueled worries of a new bubble in the making.

Signs of Beijing’s unease over the rally’s speed emerged late Thursday, when a pair of government-owned funds announced plans to trim holdings of stocks that soared this week. On Friday the state-run China Economic Times warned about the dangers of a “crazy” bull market, while Caixin reported that regulators had asked mutual fund companies to cap the size of new products.

Traders said the moves amounted to a warning from Chinese officialdom that the country’s world-beating equity boom has gone too far, too fast. While cheerleading from state-run media helped ignite gains at the end of last month, authorities appear keen to engineer a steady bull market rather than a repeat of the bubble that ended in a $5

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How Should Fashion Entrants to China Approach COVID-19 Rebound?

Elva Mankin

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LONDON — Everybody wants a slice of China’s booming luxury and fashion market, especially after the coronavirus put a stop to many businesses around the world.

It’s indeed fascinating to hear stories about how loyal Chinese consumers would queue outside Chanel and Hermès stores moments after the pandemic was contained and spend a record-breaking sum of money on high-price items, and how Burberry’s 100 limited-edition Pocket Bags in collaboration with Mr. Bags sold out within 44 seconds on his WeChat mini-program.

McKinsey predicts Chinese consumers will account for 40 percent of the world’s luxury spending by 2025, but the growing demand is likely to be trapped in the country until 2021 due to pandemic disruptions. Because of this, China’s retail market is expected to overtake the U.S. and become the world’s largest as early as this year.

But the reality is far from

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A U.S. vs. China Railgun Arms Race?

Elva Mankin

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Here’s What You Need To Remember: It could give the Chinese a technological edge, but repeatedly throughout history, it has been shown that being first doesn’t mean best.

Last month the United States Navy scaled back its efforts to develop and electromagnetic railgun (EMRG), a weapon that wouldn’t be out of place in a futuristic science fiction movie or video game. To date the U.S. Navy has spent some $500 in RYD efforts. The Navy’s EMRG project was first conceived in 2003.

Across the Pacific, Chinese efforts to develop a ship-mounted EMRG is still moving forward, and last year it was reported that such a weapon could be “capable of striking a target 124 miles away of speeds of up to 1.6 miles per second.”  

EMRG is unlike traditional artillery-based weapons in that it utilizes no gunpowder. It is essentially a large electric

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