Biden Calls Chinese Electric Vehicles a Security Threat

President Biden took steps on Thursday toward blocking Chinese electric vehicles from entry to the American auto market, saying internet-connected cars and trucks from China posed risks to national security because their operating systems could send sensitive information to Beijing.

The immediate action was the opening of a Commerce Department investigation into security threats, which could lead to new regulations or restrictions on Chinese vehicles.

But administration officials made clear it was the first step in what could be a wide range of policy responses meant to stop low-cost Chinese electric vehicles — either manufactured in China or assembled by Chinese companies in countries like Mexico — from flooding the U.S. market and potentially driving domestic automakers out of business.

China has rapidly scaled up its production of electric vehicles in recent years, setting it on a collision course with Mr. Biden’s industrial policy efforts that seek to help American automakers dominate that market at home and abroad. Some of its smaller cars sell for less than $11,000 each — significantly less than a comparable American-made electric vehicle.

The administration’s actions on Thursday come as Mr. Biden’s likely opponent in November, former President Donald J. Trump, criticizes him for pushing automakers toward electric vehicles — and as each of the candidates tries to cast himself as tougher on China.

The measures stemmed from conversations with Detroit automakers, union autoworkers and the E.V. giant Tesla, which was recently supplanted by Chinese company BYD as the world’s biggest seller of electric cars.

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