Smith in Washington

Silicon Valley technologists and entrepreneurs tend to be way too insular, focused tightly on their own ventures and caring little about politics in Washington, DC.

We need to start caring, because Washington’s policy will really impact us. Silicon Valley has the most dynamic economy in the world, and so ensuring an open global economy is in our best interest. We know we can excel on a level playing field.

Now China’s Ministry of Commerce refusing to approve a bid (sub required) by the Carlyle Group — a major private equity firm that has made many investments in technology and has offices in San Francisco — for China’s Xuzhou Construction Machinery Group. It is China’s largest producer of construction equipment.

The Chinese move comes, of course, after U.S. lawmakers, in a frenzy of fear about foreign ownership of U.S. assets, put the kibosh on a bid by a Dubai company to acquire P&O Ports, which controls six U.S. ports. And after similar fears derailed a bid last year by China’s CNOOC to acquire Unocal, a U.S. oil company.

Our actions make it much easier for foreign governments to start taking protectionist measures. Already, our companies like Google, Yahoo and others are getting hit by China, and now other countries like India are beginning to moan about various things, and calling for international regulations on what Google can and can not do. If they call for such talks, we should respond constructively. Otherwise, we’ll be left in the cold. None of this is easy. Moves like Google to finally boost their lobbying efforts in Washington (scroll down) are important, but in our view should have happened long ago.

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