Biden prohibits U.S. investment in 59 Chinese companies allegedly tied to military, surveillance

US President Joe Biden speaks during a commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the Tulsa Race Massacre at the Greenwood Cultural Center in Tulsa, Oklahoma, on June 1, 2021.
Mandel Ngan | AFP | Getty Images

President Joe Biden on Thursday expanded restrictions on American investments in certain Chinese companies with alleged ties to the country’s military and surveillance efforts, adding more firms to a growing blacklist.

In an executive order, Biden barred U.S. investors from financial interests in 59 Chinese companies over fears of their links to the Chinese government’s geopolitical ambitions, continuing some portions of the tough tact former President Donald Trump took in discussions with Beijing.

“This E.O. allows the United States to prohibit – in a targeted and scoped manner – U.S. investments in Chinese companies that undermine the security or democratic values of the United States and our allies,” the White House said in a press release.

The measure bars U.S. dollars from supporting the “Chinese defense sector, while also expanding the U.S. Government’s ability to address the threat of Chinese surveillance technology firms that contribute — both inside and outside China — to the surveillance of religious or ethnic minorities or otherwise facilitate repression and serious human rights abuses,” the administration added.

Among the 59 companies barred are Aero Engine Corp. of China, Aerosun Corp., Fujian Torch Electron Technology and Huawei Technologies.

The prohibitions take effect at 12:01 a.m. ET on Aug. 2.

The move is one of the most forceful to date against the top U.S. rival and another sign that the Biden administration may adopt or advance many of the tactics used by the Trump administration in its own effort to stay competitive with China.

Biden and his economic advisors must also determine what to do with a raft of tariffs, as well as whether to increase sanctions against Chinese officials involved in the mass detention of mainly Muslim ethnic minorities in the Xinjiang region.

A representative for the Chinese Foreign Ministry challenged the move by the Biden administration, telling members of the press that the Trump administration’s original order was executed with “total disregard of facts.”

“The U.S. should respect the rule of law and the market, correct its mistakes, and stop actions that undermine the global financial market order and investors’ lawful rights and interests,” spokesman Wang Wenbin told reporters in Beijing.

The Trump administration’s previous order created a list of 48 firms.

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