Republicans criticize Chinese acquisition of government-backed battery maker

Congressional Republicans on Monday expressed their frustration that federally backed battery manufacturer A123 Systems will be sold a Chinese manufacturing company, with one top GOP representative even calling on President Barack Obama to block the the sale.

“As with Solyndra and other failed ‘green’ firms, taxpayers already face a significant loss,” said Alaska Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski. “The real irony is that these assets were developed in part with stimulus money that the federal government borrowed from countries such as China.”

“So now, not only do we have to pay that money back, we have also lost the technology we spent it on in the first place,” she added.

“It is exceedingly frustrating to stand by and watch the fruits of our taxpayer-funded research and development get shipped overseas to a Chinese firm,” said Georgia Republican Rep. Paul Broun. “It is a dirty cycle: We borrow money from China, use it to fund R&D in America, and then watch as the benefits of that research are reaped on foreign soil.”

On Sunday, the Chinese auto parts manufacturer Wanxiang Group won a high-stakes bid to acquire the now-bankrupt A123 Systems, which had received a $249.1 million federal grant as part of a federal stimulus package, as well as more than $100 million in grants and tax credits from Massachusetts.

The company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in October 2012.

The New York Times reports that Wanxiang agreed to pay $256 million for A123’s automotive and commercial operations, which include its three U.S. factories.

A123 was heavily indebted, and had suffered losses every quarter since 2008. The company laid off 123 workers in November 2011, according to the Institute for Energy Research.

The company was in dire financial straits after struggling with costs associated with a recall of batteries supplied to Fisker Automotive, the maker of the luxury hybrid cars that reportedly caught fire and exploded in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. (RELATED: No injuries reported after several hybrid cars erupt)

Fisker was the recipient of a $529 million Department of Energy loan guarantee.