News and Commentary

Mark Kelly Advised Company Connected To Chinese Tech Business
Retired NASA astronaut Mark Kelly waits to speak during a press conference where he joined his wife, former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, and other anti-gun violence activists and victims' families to discuss the impact of gun violence on August 12, 2016 in Miami, Florida.
Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images

More revelations have surfaced regarding Arizona Democratic senatorial candidate Mark Kelly’s connections with Chinese entities or companies they do business with. Kelly reportedly advised and held significant stock in Boom Technology, a high-speed aircraft company that has partnered with the Shanghai-based travel company Ctrip, which according to The Washington Free Beacon has been “a key player in the Chinese government’s ‘Belt and Road Initiative,’ a massive multi-country infrastructure project that the U.S. government has described as a global security threat.”

Speaking in October 2019, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross noted the danger of the “Belt and Road Initiative,” asserting:

Through the Belt-and-Road Initiative, China has invested in 117 nations, and those nations account for two-thirds of the world’s population. Their state-owned enterprises use Chinese materials and Chinese nationals to build projects with very little local content and, if defaults occur, they foreclose on those assets rather than renegotiating the loans.

For example, in Sri Lanka, China has already foreclosed the Chinese-built port in Hambantota. It has also taken control of natural resources such as cobalt mining in the Congo, and hydrocarbons in Venezuela. Belt and Road is also effectively a jobs program for China that eases some of the impact of tariffs on their domestic employment.

Kelly’s communication director Jacob Peters told the Beacon of Kelly’s connections with Boom: “He was an adviser with a limited role advising primarily on technical matters given his expertise as a former combat pilot, test pilot, and astronaut. He had no role in investments.” The Beacon reported that Kelly’s stock in Boom Technology was worth between $115,000 and $300,000 last year, writing that in a financial disclosure report Kelly filed last year, he stated that he held between those two figures in investments he held in the company.

Megan Young, Boom’s vice president for marketing, stated, “Ctrip made a minority investment in Boom in 2018 but had zero voting or governance rights, which is standard Boom protocol for any foreign investors. There was no involvement nor contact with anyone in the Chinese government as part of the Ctrip investment.”

After Ctrip announced in April 2018 it had made a “strategic investment” in Boom, Boom’s CEO Blake Scholl exulted, “Ctrip offers valuable expertise in the Chinese travel market, and we’re excited to work with their passionate, entrepreneurial team to bring supersonic travel to the region.”

Kelly has spoken little about the Chinese tech giant Tencent’s investment in World View Enterprises, a company Kelly cofounded.

Real Clear Politics (RCP) reported, “In the fall of 2014, the CEO of World View Enterprises, the company Kelly co-founded, announced during a visit to Beijing that Tencent had invested an undisclosed sum of money in the Tucson-based space travel venture. In April 2016, as part of a subsequent, $15 million investment round, World View announced that it had received more funds from Tencent, along with three other venture capital firms.”

Tencent owns the Chinese social media platform WeChat, which has been accused of monitoring its users’ activities. Tencent suspending streaming of National Basketball Association games after Houston Rockets General Manager Daryl Morey tweeted, “Fight For Freedom Stand With Hong Kong.”

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