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Wagner's Rebellion and China's Dilemma, Fundings: Zanskar, Aigen, Apex
28 June 2023 - A Weekly Publication by New North Ventures
In the ever-evolving landscape of international relations, the startup and venture capital community is increasingly concerned about intellectual property theft from China and Chinese investment in Western companies, especially in priority sectors like semiconductor chips.
China's industrial espionage efforts involve many individuals focused on stealing intellectual property and commercial secrets. Compounding these worries is the requirement for Chinese venture capital firms to assist the government in acquiring advanced technologies. Further, new sightings of China's spy balloon program, including flights over Japan and Taiwan, have raised alarms about the extent of its surveillance capabilities.
Additionally, the short-lived rebellion led by mercenary Wagner troops in Russia has raised questions about China's political and economic ties with its ally. China's leadership is unsettled, urging caution and a reevaluation of its position on Russia's actions in Ukraine. Moreover, the precarious state of Putin's leadership and ongoing Russian operations in Ukraine create momentum for investment in securing Ukraine's security and stability.
In this context, a recent Securing Our Future podcast episode featuring Dr. Jennifer Rudolph, an expert in US-China relations, has become increasingly significant. Hosted by Jeremy Hitchcock, this episode, first released back in March, features an insightful conversation with Dr. Rudolph about the complexities and nuances surrounding China's actions and intentions.
Dr. Rudolph's expertise in Asian history and politics and her research on Taiwan's political identity provide critical insights into the multifaceted nature of the US-China relationship. Her book, "The China Questions," offers valuable perspectives on navigating this complex landscape. Tune in now to gain a deeper understanding of the challenges posed by China and strategies for securing our future in an ever-changing world.
Elevator Pitch: A geothermal energy conversion technology designed to accelerate discovery and unlock the development of geothermal energy.
Funding: The company raised Series B venture funding from undisclosed investors on June 27, 2023.
Elevator Pitch: Small edge-based robots designed to address both the planetary and chronic human health crises.
Funding: The company is in the process of raising venture funding on June 23, 2023.
Elevator Pitch: Productized, commercial orbital transportation services spacecraft satellite buses designed to provide an agile cost effective pathway to space.
Funding: The company raised $16 million of Series A-1 venture funding in a deal led by Andreessen Horowitz and Shield Capital on June 22, 2023. Other undisclosed investors also participated in this round.
Femtometrix, a startup that sells technology to detect defects in computer chips, filed a lawsuit alleging that three employees, sponsored on work visas from China, stole their technology and set up a copycat company in China called Weichong Semiconductor Group.
The case highlights concerns within the startup and venture capital community about potential intellectual property theft from China and Chinese investment in Western companies, particularly in priority sectors like semiconductor chips.
China's industrial espionage efforts are extensive, with a significant number of people focused on stealing intellectual property and commercial secrets. Chinese venture capital firms are required to support government goals of acquiring advanced technologies.
While not all Chinese venture capital firms engage in industrial espionage, it can be challenging for startups to distinguish between firms solely interested in investment and those with ulterior motives. Startups are increasingly desperate for funding in a competitive market, which may make them more vulnerable.
Evidence has been uncovered by BBC Panorama revealing China's spy balloon program, including flights over Japan and Taiwan. Japan has confirmed the presence of balloons over its territory and expressed willingness to shoot them down in the future.
China has not directly addressed the evidence presented by the BBC and previously claimed that the balloon shot down off the US coast was a civilian airship used for scientific research.
The BBC, in collaboration with Synthetaic, used satellite imagery and AI analysis to identify multiple instances of balloons crossing East Asia, including one crossing northern Japan in September 2021 and another over Taipei, Taiwan.
The US State Department believes that the Chinese balloons are equipped to gather signals intelligence, and the Taiwanese government initially classified the balloon over Taipei as a weather balloon, but AI analysis suggests it may be similar to the balloon seen over the US and Japan.
Following a short-lived rebellion by mercenary Wagner troops in Russia, several businessmen from southern China halted shipments of goods destined for Russia, raising concerns about their future dependence on Russia as Beijing's closest ally.
China has attempted to downplay the events and expressed support for Moscow, but some analysts both inside and outside China are questioning whether Beijing should reconsider its political and economic ties with Moscow.
The crisis has unsettled China's leadership, and there are calls for caution and a reevaluation of China's position on Russia's actions in Ukraine.
While China and Russia share opposition to perceived US dominance and the expansion of NATO, there are growing doubts about China's bet on Russia among both nationalistic commentators and scholars.
China is Russia's top trading partner, but there are signs of caution in various sectors, including energy, where Chinese state energy companies are reluctant to comment on new investments in Russia.
Look for a new episode of Securing the Future Podcasts wherever you listen. In our latest episode, we have guest Ross Haleliuk sit down with General Partner Jeremy Hitchcock for an engaging conversation where Ross discusses the cybersecurity space and outlines ways to optimize the industry for a more secure future.