臺大外語教學暨資源中心英語學習報第 360 期 發行日期 2019-04-15

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US Uses Obscure Agency to Target Chinese Foreign Investments


For decades, it was virtually unknown outside a small circle of investors, corporate lawyers and government officials.

      數十年來,除了投資者、企業法律顧問(corporate lawyer)和政府官員的小圈子外,幾乎(virtually)沒人知道這個組織的存在。


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US Uses Obscure Agency to Target Chinese Foreign Investments
VOA News
March 31, 2019 11:49 AM Masood Farivar (source)

US Uses Obscure Agency to Target Chinese Foreign Investments


March 31, 2019 11:49 AM

Masood Farivar

For decades, it was virtually unknown outside a small circle of investors, corporate lawyers and government officials.

But in recent years, the small interagency body known as the Committee for Investment in the United States has grown in prominence, propelled by a U.S. desire to use it as an instrument of national security and foreign policy.

This week, the panel made headlines after it reportedly directed Chinese gaming company Beijing Kunlun Tech to divest itself of Grindr, a popular gay dating app, because of concern the user data it collects could be used to blackmail military and intelligence personnel.

Operating out of the Treasury Department, the nine-member CFIUS (pronounced Cy-fius) reviews foreign investments in U.S. businesses to determine whether they pose a national security threat.

Notification was voluntary

Until last year, notifying the panel about such investments was voluntary, something Kunlun and California-based Grindr took advantage of when they closed a deal in 2016.

But given growing U.S. concern about Chinese companies with ties to Beijing buying businesses in sensitive U.S. industries, the committee's rare intervention to undo the deal was hardly a surprise, said Harry Broadman, a former CFIUS member.

"I think anyone who was surprised by the decision really didn't understand the legislative history, legislative landscape and the politics" of CFIUS, said Broadman, who is now a partner and chair of the emerging markets practice at consulting firm Berkley [sic] Research Group.

The action by CFIUS is the latest in a series aimed at Chinese companies investing in the U.S. tech sector and comes as the Trump administration wages a global campaign against telecom giant Huawei Technologies and remains locked in a trade dispute with Beijing. The U.S. says the state-linked company could gain access to critical telecom infrastructure and is urging allies to bar it from participating in their new 5G networks.

While the administration has yet to formulate a policy on Huawei, the world's largest supplier of telecom equipment, the latest CFIUS action underscores how the U.S. is increasingly turning to the body to restrict Chinese investments across a broad swath of U.S. technology companies.

"CFIUS is one of the few tools that the government has that can be used on a case-by-case basis to try to untangle [a] web of dependencies and solve potential national security issues, and the government has become increasingly willing to use that tool more aggressively," said Joshua Gruenspecht, an attorney at Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati in Washington, who represents companies before the committee.

CFIUS's history has long been intertwined with politics and periodic public backlash against foreign investment in the U.S.

OPEC investments

In 1975 it was congressional concern over the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) investments in U.S. stocks and bonds that led President Gerald Ford to set up the committee through an executive order. It was tasked with monitoring the impact of foreign investment in the United States but had little other authority.

In the years that followed, backlash against foreign acquisitions of certain U.S. firms led Congress to beef up the agency.

In 1988, spurred in part by a Japanese attempt to buy a U.S. semiconductor firm, Congress enshrined CFIUS in law, granting the president the authority to block mergers and acquisitions that threatened national security.

In 2007, outrage over CFIUS's decision to approve the sale of management operations of six key U.S. ports to a Dubai port operator led Congress to pass new legislation, broadening the definition of national security and requiring greater scrutiny by CFIUS of certain types of foreign direct investment, according to the Congressional Research Service.

But by far the biggest change to how CFIUS reviews and approves foreign transactions came last summer when Congress passed the Foreign Investment Risk Review Modernization Act of 2018.

Slated to be fully implemented in 2020, the new law vastly expanded CFIUS's jurisdiction and authority, requiring foreign companies that take even a non-controlling stake in a sensitive U.S. business to get the committee's clearance.

While the new law did not mention China by name, concern about Chinese investments and national security dominated the debate that led to its enactment.

"There is no mistake that both the congressional intent and the executive intent have a clear eye on the role of China in the transactions," Broadman said.

Threats to 'technological superiority'

Under interim rules issued by the Treasury Department last fall, investments in U.S. businesses that develop and manufacture "critical technologies" in one or more of 27 designated industries are now subject to review by CFIUS. Most of the covered technologies are already subject to U.S. export controls. The designated industries are sectors where foreign investment "threatens to undermine U.S. technological superiority that is critical to U.S. national security," according to the Treasury Department. They range from semiconductor machinery to aircraft manufacturing.

The new regulations mean that foreign companies seeking to invest in any of these technologies and industries must notify CFIUS at least 45 days prior to closing a deal. CFIUS will then have 30 days to clear the deal, propose a conditional approval or reject it outright. If parties to a transaction do not withdraw in response to CFIUS’s concerns, the president will be given 15 days to block it.

To date, U.S. presidents have blocked five deals — four of them involving Chinese companies. One was blocked by the late President George H.W. Bush in 1990, two by former President Barack Obama in 2012 and 2016, and two by President Donald Trump.

The number is deceptively small. A far greater number of deals are simply withdrawn by parties after they don't get timely clearance or CFIUS opens a formal investigation. According to the Treasury Department, of the 942 notices of transactions filed with CFIUS between 2009 and 2016, 107 were withdrawn during the review or after an investigation.

In recent years, CFIUS has reviewed between 200 and 250 cases per year, according to Gruenspecht. But the number is likely to exceed 2,000 a year under the new CFIUS regime, he added.

The tighter scrutiny has raised questions about whether the new law strikes the right balance between encouraging foreign investment and protecting national security.

"I think the short answer is it's too early to tell," Gruenspecht said. However, he added, if the new law "becomes a recipe for taking foreign investment off the table for whole realms of new emerging technology, that crosses a lot of boundaries." 

Concern in Europe

The U.S. is not the only country toughening screening measures for foreign investment. In December, the European Union proposed a new regulation for members to adopt "CFIUS-like" foreign investment review processes.

Gruenspecht said that while foreign investors are not "thrilled" about the additional CFIUS scrutiny, "a lot of Western nations are also saying, actually, 'We totally understand the rational behind CFIUS and we're looking to implement our own internal versions of CFIUS ourselves.'" 

數十年來,除了投資者、企業法律顧問(corporate lawyers)和政府官員的小圈子外,幾乎(virtually)沒人知道這個組織的存在。

但近年來,這個名為「美國海外投資委員會(Committee for Investment in the United States,CFIUS)」(以下簡稱「海外投資委員會」)的小型跨部門組織(interagency body),卻在美國欲以其作為國家安全與外交政策手段(instrument)驅使(propel)下,有著日益顯著(prominence)的發展。

根據報導,該工作小組(panel)因擔心使用者資訊可能被用來勒索(blackmail)軍方與情報人員(personnel),在這週下令要求(direct)中國遊戲公司「北京崑崙科技(Beijing Kunlun Tech)」將廣受歡迎的同志社交軟體「格蘭杜爾(Grindr)」脫手(divest),此舉亦成了新聞頭條。

這 9 名海外投資委員會成員在美國財政部(the Treasury Department)管轄下運作,審查在美國境內的外國投資企業,以判定其是否構成國家安全威脅。


截至去年為止,由於向該工作小組通報(notify)相關投資皆屬自願性質(voluntary),崑崙與總部位於加州(California)的格蘭杜爾於是便藉機在 2016 年達成交易(close a deal)

但基於美國對中國公司與北京當局收購該國敏感性的產業日漸憂慮,該委員會撤銷(undo)交易的罕見干預(intervention)並非意外,曾任海外投資委員會的哈利.布羅德曼(Harry Broadman)表示。

「我認為對此感到意外的人並不了解海外投資委員會的立法(legislative)淵源、形勢(landscape)以及政治因素。」布羅德曼說。他目前是諮詢公司「柏克萊研究團隊(Berkeley Research Group,BRG)」下的新興(emerging)市場操作主席及合夥人。

海外投資委員會針對中國企業對美國科技產業投資展開一連串行動,肇因於川普政府發起(wage)對抗電信業(telecom)巨頭華為科技(Huawei Technologies)的全球性戰爭,以及與北京的貿易糾紛陷入僵局。美國指出,與中國政府密切相關的華為可能取得關鍵電信基礎設施(infrastructure)的權限,於是敦促盟邦(ally)禁止華為參與最新的 5G 網絡。 


「海外投資委員會是政府少數能以個案為基礎所運用的工具,進而解決(untangle)網絡依賴並處理國安議題,而且目前政府已更加積極地採取這項手段。」約書亞.葛倫斯潘(Joshua Gruenspecht)說。他是華盛頓特區(Washington, D.C.)威爾遜.桑西尼.古奇.羅沙迪律師事務所(Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati,WSGR)的律師(attorney),並在委員會裡代表多數企業。

海外投資委員會歷來多政治議題,以及對美國境內投資時而發生的(periodic)民眾反彈聲浪(backlash)密切相關(intertwine with . . .)


1975年時,由於石油輸出國組織(the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries,OPEC)對美國股票與債劵的投資引起國會憂慮,當時的美國總統福特(President Gerald Ford)於是以行政命令(executive order)成立委員會,負責監控(monitor)美國境內的海外投資,但少有其他職權。

接下來的幾年中,境外收購(acquisition)美國特定企業引發的強烈抵制促使國會強化(beef up)該組織。

到了 1988 年,受到日本企圖購買美國半導體(semiconductor)企業的刺激(spur),國會海外投資委員會奉為圭臬(enshrine . . .)授予(grant)總統職權以阻止威脅國家安全的合併與收購。

2007 年,海外投資委員會同意出售 6 個負責管理營運的美國重要港口給杜拜業者,此一行徑引起眾怒,國會於是通過新法,擴大對國家安全的定義,並要求委員會對特定的境外直接投資採更嚴謹的審查(scrutiny)

截至目前為止,關於海外投資委員會如何審查與准予海外交易的最大改變,是國會在去年(編按:2018 年)夏天通過的《2018 年外國投資風險審查現代化法案》(the Foreign Investment Risk Review Modernization Act of 2018,FIRRMA)。

這項新法預計(slate)在 2020 年全面實施,大幅擴展了海外投資委員會的管轄權(jurisdiction)與職權,並要求在美國敏感性產業僅少數持股(stake)的境外公司也須取得委員會的許可(clearance)




財政部去年(編按:2018 年)秋天頒布臨時性(interim)條例,對美國發展與製造「關鍵技術(critical technology)」企業的投資案進行規範,這些企業若屬於 27 項指定產業其中的至少一項,則投資案得交由海外投資委員會檢視。目前多數的技術已經面臨(subject to . . .)美國出口的管制。財政部表示,在這些指定產業的境外投資「恐將危害(undermine)攸關美國國家安全的科技優勢(superiority)」。這些產業從半導體機械到飛行器製造皆囊括其中。

新的管制措施意謂著尋求投資這些技術與產業的外國企業必須在成交日至少 45 天前就通報海外投資委員會。委員會將會花 30 天審查該筆交易,並決議有條件通過或是全盤(outright)否決。倘若成交雙方未針對海外投資委員會的疑慮撤回交易案,美國總統有權在 15 天內否決該筆交易。

迄今,美國總統已防堵 5 項交易,其中的 4 項涉及中國企業。已故總統喬治.布希(President George H.W. Bush)在 1990 年攔截一項,前任總統巴拉克.歐巴馬(President Barack Obama)在 2012 及 2016 年各阻擋兩項,另兩項則由現任總統川普(President Donald Trump)擋下。

確切的交易數字看似(deceptively)為數不多,但有更多的交易是在雙方未能及時得到許可,或海外投資委員會展開正式調查後遭到撤銷。根據財政部資料,從 2009 至 2016 年間提交海外投資委員會的 942 項交易申報中,有 107 項是在審查或調查後遭到撤回。

葛倫斯潘指出,近幾年來,海外投資委員會每年已審查 200 到 250 件個案。不過,在委員會最新的體制(regime)下,一年很可能超過(exceed) 2000 件。


「簡單來說,我認為一切都言之過早。」葛倫斯潘表示。不過,他補充說道,如果這項新法「成了免去(take . . . off the table)外國對新興科技投資的利器(recipe),將會逾越許多界線」。


美國並非唯一對境外投資加強檢查措施(screening measure)的國家。歐盟(European Union)在 12 月(編按:2018 年)提出一項新法規,讓會員國採取「類似海外投資委員會的(CFIUS-like)」境外投資審查程序。


Language Notes

obscure [əb`skjʊr] (a) 原指黑暗的,朦朧的,或含糊不清的,晦澀的難解之意,在本文中意指隱匿的
* 注意本字重音在第 2 音節

virtually [`vɝtʃuəli] / [`vɝtʃʊəlɪ] (adv) 實際上,事實上,差不多

corporate lawyer (n phr) 公司法律顧問

interagency body (n phr) 跨機構(單位)組織或法人

prominence [`prɑmənəns] (n) 突起,凸出;凸出物;引人注目的事物(或地方)

propel [prə`pɛl] (v) 推進,推;推動;驅策,激勵
* 注意本字重音在第 2 音節

panel [`pænl̩] (n) 專門小組;評判小組;專題討論小組

divest [dɪ`vest] / [dɪ`vɛst] / [daɪ`vest] / [də`vɛst] (v) 剝除;使脫去;剝奪;迫使放棄
* 注意本字重音在第 2 音節

blackmail [`blæk͵meɪl] / [`blæk͵mel] (v) 敲詐;勒索;脅迫(+ into)

notify [`noʊtə͵faɪ] / [`notə͵faɪ] (v) 通知,告知;報告(+ of)

voluntary [`vɑlən͵teri] / [`vɑlən͵tɛrɪ] (a) 自願的,志願的

close a deal (v phr) 達成交易

undo [ʌn`du] (v) 取消,消除;使失敗;使復舊
* 注意本字重音在第 2 音節

legislative [`ledʒəslətɪv] / [`ledʒəs͵leɪtɪv] / [`lɛdʒɪs͵letɪv] / [`lɛdʒɪslətɪv] (a) 立法的;有立法權的
* legislation [͵ledʒəs`leɪʃən] / [lɛdʒɪs`leɪʃən] / [lɛdʒɪs`leʃən] (n) 法律;立法

landscape [`lænd͵skeɪp] / [`lænd͵skep] (n) 本指風景,景色,在本文中意指脈絡與形勢

wage [weɪdʒ] / [wedʒ] (v) 從事,發起

infrastructure [`ɪnfrə͵strʌktʃɚ] (n) 公共建設;基礎建設

formulate [`fɔrmjə͵leɪt] / [`fɔrmjə͵let] / [`fɔrmju͵leɪt] (v) 制訂;規劃;構想;系統地闡述(或說明)

underscore [͵ʌndɚ`skɔr] / [͵ʌndɚ`skor] (v) 在 . . . . . . 下劃線;強調
* 注意本字重音在第 3 音節;也可作名詞,意即「(表示強調的)下方畫線;(影片等的)伴音」,重音則在第一音節([`ʌndɚ͵skɔr])

swath [swɑθ] (n) 原指(鐮刀或割草機)收割的寬度;划幅,在本文中係指大幅度地

untangle [ʌn`tæŋgl̩] (v) 解開 . . . . . . 的糾結;整頓,清理;解決(糾紛等)
* 本字由字首 "un-"「 不,非,無,相反」和動詞 "tangle"「使混亂,使起糾紛」組成;注意重音在第 2 音節

intertwine [͵ɪntɚ`twaɪn] (v) 糾纏;編結
* 本字常用被動語態 "be intertwined with something",意即「與 . . . . . . 緊密關聯;與 . . . . . . 纏繞在一起」;注意重音在第 3 音節

periodic [͵pɪri`ɑdɪk] / [͵pɪrɪ`ɑdɪk] (a) 週期的,週期性的;定期的;時而發生的;間歇(性)的
* 注意本字重音在第 3 音節

backlash [`bæk͵læʃ] (n) 強烈反應;強烈反對

executive order (n phr) 行政命令(總統職權)

acquisition [͵ækwə`zɪʃən] / [͵ækwɪ`zɪʃən] (n) 獲得,取得
* 注意本字重音在第 3 音節
* acquire [ə`kwaɪr] / [ə`kwaɪɚ] (v) 取得,獲得;購得;學到

beef up (v phr) 增強、強化

enshrine [ɪn`ʃraɪn] (v) 把 . . . . . . 置於神龕內;把 . . . . . . 奉為神聖
* 本字由字首 "en-"「 使;使成為;使處於 . . . . . . 狀態」和名詞 "shine"「聖地;神龕;聖壇;神殿」組成;注意重音在第 2 音節

grant [grænt] (v) 同意,准予

scrutiny [`skrutəni] / [`skrutənɪ] / [`skrutɪni] (n) 詳細的檢查;仔細的觀察

slate [sleɪt] / [slet] (v) 預定;選定

jurisdiction [͵dʒʊrɪs`dɪkʃən] / [͵dʒʊərəs`dɪkʃən] (n) 司法;司法權,審判權,裁判權;權力;管轄權
* 注意本字重音在第 3 音節

stake [steɪk] / [stek] (n) 股本,股份;利害關係

clearance [`klɪrəns] / [`klɪərəns] (n) 許可;准許;批准
* 本字另常見意思為「(對廢物或不要的東西的)清除,清理,清掃,排除」或「(貨物的)清倉減價」

enactment [ɪ`næktmənt] / [ɪn`æktmənt] (n)(法律的)制定
* 注意本字重音在第 2 音節
* enact [ɪ`nækt] / [ɪn`ækt] / [ɛn`ækt] (v) 實行,實施;(尤指)制定(法律)

transaction [træn`zækʃən] (n) 交易,買賣
* 注意本字重音在第 2 音節

interim [`ɪntərɪm] (a) 間歇的,過渡期間的;臨時的,暫時的
* 本字也可作名詞,指「間歇;過渡期間」

subject [`sʌbdʒɪkt] / [`sʌbdʒɛkt] / [`sʌbdʒekt] (a) 易受 . . . . . . 的;易患 . . . . . . 的
* 本字常見片語為 "be subject to"「對 . . . . . . 服從;受 . . . . . . 約束;遭受,承受;面臨」

undermine [͵ʌndɚ`maɪn] (v) 暗中破壞;逐漸損害
* 注意本字重音在第 3 音節

outright [`aʊt`raɪt] / [`aʊtraɪt] / [͵aʊt`raɪt] (adv) 全部地;徹底地;無保留地

deceptively [dɪ`septɪvli] / [dɪ`sɛptɪvlɪ] (adv) 本指迷惑地;虛偽地;欺詐地,此處意為看似之意
* 注意本字重音在第 2 音節
* deceptive [dɪ`septɪv] / [dɪ`sɛptɪv] (a) 迷惑的,騙人的;虛偽的;欺詐的

recipe [`resəpi] / [`rɛsəpɪ] (n) 本指食譜或處方,在此衍伸為訣竅或利器

take something off the table (v phr) 捨棄不予考慮

screening [`skrinɪŋ] (n) 審查,篩選
* screen [skrin] (v) 測試;檢查;篩檢

internal [ɪn`tɝnl̩] (a) 國內的;內政的
* 注意本字重音在第 2 音節

Check your vocabulary!

Fill in the blanks with a word or phrase from the list above. Make necessary changes. After you finish, highlight the blanks to reveal the hidden answers.

1.  The president has accused two cabinet members of working secretly to undermine his reputation.

2. They used the photographs to blackmail her into spying for them.

3.  His answers were obscure and confusing.

4. There was no financial transaction between us.

5. The town's prosperity is inextricably intertwined with the fortunes of the factory.

6.  The company is divesting its less profitable business operations.

7. It took years to untangle the legal complexities of the case.

8. The film propelled him to international stardom.

9. They've been waging a long campaign to change the law.

10. Cars are subject to a high domestic tax.

編譯:外語教學暨資源中心 編輯小組