Funny how this didn’t come out until after the midterms isn’t it?
Recently re-elected Democrat Senator Mark Kelly (D-Arizona) helped start a Tucson-based company called World View in 2012. The company received capital from Tencent – one of the largest tech companies in China – in 2013 and 2016.
Axios reported that Tencent has “close ties to the Chinese Communist Party.”
It just so happens that the Arizona company cofounded by the Democrat Senator manufactures and operates high-altitude surveillance balloons.
Current World View president and CEO Ryan Hartman told the Arizona Republic in 2020 that Tencent stopped investing in the company once they left the space tourism field and began to focus on defense contracts.
Claire Chu, senior China analyst at defense intelligence company Janes, tells Axios Phoenix the balloon provides an opportunity to more carefully examine Chinese holdings in critical U.S. industries, including Tencent’s investment in World View.
“It’s just not a good look to have one of the largest Chinese investors, a Chinese company that’s involved in a lot of critical technologies back home, involved in potential U.S. surveillance capabilities here,” she says.
Axios also reported that National security and global economic experts told them Tencent’s investment in the Kelly co-founded company was “odd” but “not necessarily cause for concern.”
What are the odds these are the same experts that said in 2020 the COVID lab leak theory was a “conspiracy theory?”
More from Axios:
Kelly stopped working with World View in 2019, ahead of his first Senate run.
In 2021, he placed his World View stock, worth at least $100,000, in a blind trust, according to federal financial disclosure documents.
“As a combat veteran, he’s proud of the critical role that Arizona plays in developing technologies in partnership with our military to keep our country safe,” Jacob Peters, a spokesperson for Kelly, told us of the senator’s involvement.
In 2014, former World View CEO Jane Poynter told Chinese news outlet Pengpai that Kelly met with Tencent USA head David Wallerstein and “introduced space tourism technology to him,” Poynter said. “David was very interested and willing to invest at this stage” after speaking with Kelly, according to the article translated from Chinese.
Global security experts are concerned about Tencent because they are one of the US’s largest Chinese venture capital investors. They continue to invest heavily despite “regulatory crackdowns.”
We are about to learn much more about World View they are about to go public and will be required to disclose a lot more about who their investors are.