Biden signs executive order banning investment in Chinese defense, tech firms

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President Biden has signed an executive order that expands a Trump-era ban on US investment in dozens of Chinese companies with alleged ties to defense or surveillance technology sectors, citing “unusual and extraordinary threats.”

The White House said in a statement that the order will “ensure that U.S. investments are not supporting Chinese companies that undermine the security or values of the United States and our allies.”

China urged the US to respect market law and principle and withdraw the investment ban list, Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said in a news briefing.

The Treasury Department will enforce and update on a “rolling basis” the new list of about 59 firms that bars buying or selling publicly traded securities in target companies — and replaces an earlier list from the Department of Defense.

The Biden administration says the move expands the scope of a Trump-era order.

The president’s order prevents American investment from supporting the Chinese “military-industrial complex,” as well as military, intelligence and security research and development programs.

“[T]he use of Chinese surveillance technology outside the PRC, as well as the development or use of Chinese surveillance technology to facilitate repression or serious human rights abuses, constitute unusual and extraordinary threats,” the White House said, using the acronym for the People’s Republic of China.

Chinese companies included on the previous Defense Department list also were added to the updated list.

They include Aviation Industry Corp. of China, China Mobile Communications Group, China National Offshore Oil Corp., Hangzhou Hikvision Digital Technology Co. Ltd., Huawei Technologies Ltd. and Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corp.

“We fully expect that in the months ahead … we’ll be adding additional companies to the new executive order’s restrictions,” a senior administration official told reporters Thursday.

Another official said the inclusion of Chinese surveillance technology firms expanded the scope of last year’s Trump administration order.

“The US government is stretching the concept of national security, abusing national power and using every possible means to suppress and restrict Chinese enterprises,” said Wang, the Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman.

“We are firmly opposed to this,” he told reporters at a regular briefing Friday as he urged the US to withdraw the list.

Senior officials said the Treasury Department will provide guidance on the scope of surveillance technology, including whether companies are facilitating “repression or serious human rights abuses.”

“We really want to make sure that any future prohibitions are on legally solid ground. So, our first listings really reflect that,” a second senior administration official said.

On Friday, Chinese investors brushed off the list, with most of the stocks named making gains.

Wu Kan, portfolio manager at Soochow Securities Co., told Reuters the listed companies were in vital industries such as defense and semiconductors and would get government support.

“China has given up illusions and is fully prepared for decoupling in those strategic sectors that relate to national security … so the new ban list is not really a surprise,” he said.

With Post wires

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