President-elect Joe Biden

Biden and blacklisted Chinese companies

2021/06/04 22:15 家族 健康

WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden expanded a prohibition on Americans investing in Chinese companies with purported links to China’s military, adding more businesses to a blacklist that has angered Beijing and caused consternation among investors.

An executive order Biden signed Thursday brings to 59 the total number of Chinese companies banned from receiving American investment and shows how his administration is continuing some of the hard-line China policies left by former President Donald Trump.

Many of the newly targeted companies are subsidiaries and affiliates of major state-owned companies and other businesses named on the earlier blacklist. They include a clutch of companies tied to the state-owned aerospace giant Aviation Industry Corporation of China and two financing affiliates of telecommunications gear-maker Huawei Technologies Co.

The new order prevents Americans from investing in those companies, with a 60-day grace period, until Aug. 2, before sanctions begin and a one-year period for Americans already invested in the firms—either directly or via mutual and index or other funds—to divest themselves.

Biden expands list of blacklisted Chinese companies

President Joe Biden has expanded a Trump-era ban on American investment in dozens of Chinese firms that Washington believes are linked to China's military.

Biden signed an executive order Thursday that prohibits Americans from owning or trading any securities tied to 59 companies, citing the threat of Chinese surveillance technology. The original order, signed by former President Donald Trump in November, applied to 31 Chinese companies that the administration said "enable the development and modernization" of China's military and "directly threaten" US security.

Biden's new order goes into effect on August 2.

The Biden announcement largely continues the campaign his predecessor had started against Chinese tech and other businesses.

Joe Biden expands Trump's list of Chinese companies banned from US investment

Many companies that were on Trump's list — including smartphone maker Huawei and Hikvision, a major manufacturer and suppliers of video surveillance equipment — remain on this one. Some of the country's biggest telecommunications companies, including China Mobile, China Telecommunications and China Unicom, are also still banned.

The decision to expand the scope of the order is due to the "unusual and extraordinary threats" posed by Chinese surveillance technology, according to the White House, which added that the decision "allows the United States to prohibit — in a targeted and scoped manner — US investments in Chinese companies that undermine the security or democratic values of the United States and our allies."

China condemned the move at a press briefing on Friday, and said that the US has "unscrupulously suppressed and restricted Chinese companies."

China "firmly opposes" Washington's move as one that hurts "not only the legitimate rights and interests of Chinese companies, but also the interests of global investors, including US investors," said Wang Wenbin, spokesperson for China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Several of the companies that have been named in both orders have previously dismissed claims that they were tied to the Chinese military as groundless. Xiaomi even successfully lobbied against its inclusion on the Trump-era list, and in May this year the US Department of Defense and the smartphone maker reached an agreement to set aside the ban on the company.

The move from Biden suggests that Washington isn't rushing to make amends with Beijing. Analysts have previously said that while Biden will likely strike a more predictable and diplomatic tone with China than Trump did, they don't expect the administration to ease up on tech and trade policy.

The new order "moves the world a step closer to strategic decoupling in the global financial sector," said Alex Capri, a research fellow at Hinrich Foundation and a visiting senior fellow at National University of Singapore. He added that it "underscores the difficulty that American financial firms are going to have in the future, trying to sort out which of their investments have ties back to the Chinese state."

Political clashes have already exacerbated tensions between the two countries. A March summit in Alaska between senior US and Chinese officials ended with an unusual diplomatic spat. The two sides have also feuded recently over a handful of issues, including alleged human rights abuses in Xinjiang and the origins of Covid-19.

Even so, the countries are restarting talks on some issues. Beijing said Thursday that it is now having "normal communication" with Washington on trade and the economy, citing recent discussions between Chinese Vice Premier, Liu He, US Trade Representative Katherine Tai, and US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen as "professional, frank and constructive."

Doug Fuller, an associate professor at the City University of Hong Kong, said Biden's move does not necessarily mean the administration will "radically broaden other policies."

"The overall trend seems to be a fair amount of continuity with the Trump administration's China policies with neither large rollbacks nor tripling down on sanctions and other controls," he told CNN Business.

Joe Biden expands blacklist of Chinese firms to 59 over 'facilitating serious human rights abuses'

US president Joe Biden on Thursday expanded a blacklist of Chinese firms that are off-limits to American investors over their links to Beijing's "military-industrial complex," in a sign of Washington's continued pressure campaign against the Asian power.

Former president Donald Trump in November issued a list of 31 Chinese companies that were deemed to be supplying or supporting China's military and security apparatus, later adding even more firms.

But after legal challenges put the sanctions in doubt, Biden's team reviewed the blacklist, removing some names and ultimately expanding it to 59 firms that Americans are prohibited from having a stake in. Many are subsidiaries of companies already included.

The sanctions target companies involved in Chinese surveillance technology used to "facilitate repression or serious human rights abuses," which "undermine the security or democratic values of the United States and our allies," according to a White House statement.

The initial list published under Trump included major telecoms, construction and technology firms such as China Mobile, China Telecom, video surveillance firm Hikvision, and China Railway Construction Corp.

China National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC) was added in January — causing S&P to remove the company from its stock index — and remains on Biden's list.

The investment ban takes effect 2 August and current shareholders have a year to divest.

Strained relations

The move was among a series of measures by the White House aimed at the Asian power that have left ties between the two countries severely strained.

Earlier in the day before the Biden order was released, Beijing repeated its outrage at the Trump-era blacklist and vowed to protect the rights of Chinese companies, saying the measure was "politically motivated" and "ignores the facts and actual situation" of the firms involved.

The ban "severely undermines normal market rules and order" and "damages... the interests of global investors, including US investors," foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said at a routine briefing.

Previously, the sanctions and choice of targets were tied to a congressionally mandated Defense Department report but will be managed by the Treasury Department.

While the Biden administration has pledged to take a more diplomatic approach with China following the upheaval of his predecessor, he has said he will keep to a tough line on several issues including defense and technology.

Biden has lamented that the United States is falling behind, saying China is "eating our lunch."

A tough line on China has rare cross-party support in Congress, with lawmakers determined to keep a lid on its growing global clout.

Republican senators Tom Cotton and Marco Rubio, alongside Democrats Gary Peters and Mark Kelly, published a bi-partisan letter earlier this week urging the administration to publish a new list.

"The US government must continue to act boldly in blocking the Chinese Communist Party's economic predation against our industrial base," they said.

Biden strengthens ban on investments in Chinese defense, tech firms

President Joe Biden signed an executive order on Thursday to strengthen a ban on U.S. investments in Chinese defense and surveillance technology firms, amid concerns that the technology could facilitate repression against minorities.

A total of 59 companies were listed as subject to the prohibitions, including Huawei Technologies Co. and video surveillance company Hangzhou Hikvision Digital Technology Co. The ban will take effect on Aug. 2.

The move signals a continuation of the hard-line China policies taken by the previous administration of Donald Trump. Many of the companies in Biden's order were reportedly blacklisted under the Trump administration, which ended in January this year.

The White House said Biden's executive order not only prevents U.S. investment from supporting the Chinese defense sector, but also expands the U.S. government's ability to address the "threat" of Chinese firms that contribute to the surveillance of religious or ethnic minorities or facilitate serious human rights abuses.

"Tackling these challenges head-on is consistent with the Biden administration's commitment to protecting core U.S. national security interests and democratic values," the White House said.

The Biden administration has been increasingly concerned over Beijing's human rights abuses against the Muslim Uyghur minority in China's far-western Xinjiang region, who are said to be under heavy surveillance.

In November, Trump issued an order to block investment in Chinese firms that Washington viewed as supporting China's military, saying that Beijing "exploits" U.S. investors to finance the development and modernization of its military.

But the action under the Trump administration faced legal challenges, with Chinese smartphone giant Xiaomi Corp. ending up being removed from the blacklist.

Biden expands Trump’s investment blacklist of Chinese companies to 59 firms

President Joe Biden signed an order Thursday amending a ban on U.S. investment in Chinese companies begun under his predecessor, naming 59 firms with ties to China’s military or in the surveillance industry, including Huawei Technologies Co. and the country’s three biggest telecommunications companies.

The ban on new investments will take effect Aug. 2 at 12:01 a.m. in New York, according to administration officials who briefed reporters on condition of anonymity. Investors will have one year to fully divest.

Biden’s order is largely a continuation of a policy issued by former President Donald Trump that was challenged in court and confused investors over the extent of its reach to subsidiaries of blocked companies. Biden’s position on Trump’s order has been closely watched by Wall Street and Capitol Hill, where lawmakers from both parties have called for a strong stance against China over issues ranging from trade to human rights.

Many of the companies in Biden’s order were already on the Trump administration’s list, including the nation’s largest telecoms—China Mobile Communications Group Co., China Unicom Ltd. and China Telecommunications Corp.—as well as top chipmaker Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corp. and largest server maker Inspur.

Among the defense companies on Biden’s list are Aviation Industry Corp. of China, Ltd., which is one of the best known of the Chinese military giants; China North Industries Group Corp.; China Aerospace Science and Industry Corporation Ltd.; and China Shipbuilding Industry Co.

Biden’s list also includes Hangzhou Hikvision Digital Technology Co., the developer of surveillance cameras and facial-recognition technology that has helped Chinese authorities roll out “safe city” initiatives in Xinjiang, where ethnic Uyghurs have faced persecution.

Companies on Biden’s list that weren’t covered in Trump’s initial ban include Zhonghang Electronic Measuring Instruments Co. and Jiangxi Hongdu Aviation Industry Co.

Others include: Proven Honour Capital Ltd.; Proven Glory Capital Ltd.; Shaanxi Zhongtian Rocket Technology Co.; Inner Mongolia First Machinery Group Co.; Changsha Jingjia Microelectronics Co.; China Avionics Systems Company Ltd.; China Satellite Communications Co.; China-based Costar Group Co.; Fujian Torch Electron Technology Co.; and Guizhou Space Appliance Co.

Shares in the targeted firms were a mixed bag Friday morning in Asia. Hikvision was little changed after sliding about 2.2%, while SMIC fell as much as 3.3% in Hong Kong.

The Treasury Department released guidance on the penalties later Thursday. Treasury will update the list on a rolling basis, one of the officials said.

A Hikvision spokesperson said in a statement on Friday that “with no justification for previous lists, the U.S. government keeps finding creative ways to continue targeting Hikvision simply because we happen to be headquartered in China.”

Under Biden’s order, the investment prohibitions will apply to subsidiaries of companies only if they are listed by the Office of Foreign Assets Control. The amended order clarifies that the measures will no longer apply to companies whose names closely match the listed entities, the Biden administration officials said.

OFAC’s list will be coordinated with the State and Defense departments. The Pentagon, which is required by Congress to keep a list of companies linked to the Chinese military, released its list on Thursday night. Some companies will be listed by the Pentagon and OFAC, the officials said.

The amendment to Trump’s order comes after two Chinese companies successfully challenged it in U.S. court. Biden’s team said a revision was necessary to ensure it was legally sound and sustainable in the long-term.