US President Biden bans investments in 59 Chinese defence and tech firms

Photo: AP

President Joe Biden signed an executive order on Thursday that bans US entities from investing in dozens of Chinese companies with alleged ties to defence or surveillance technology sectors, a move his administration says expands the scope of a legally flawed Trump-era order, Reuters reported.

The Treasury Department will enforce and update on a "rolling basis" the new list of about 59 companies, which bars buying or selling publicly traded securities in target companies, and replaces an earlier list from the Department of Defence, senior administration officials told reporters.

The order prevents US investment from supporting the Chinese military-industrial complex, as well as military, intelligence, and security research and development programmes, Biden said in the order. "In addition, I find that the use of Chinese surveillance technology outside the PRC and the development or use of Chinese surveillance technology to facilitate repression or serious human rights abuse constitute unusual and extraordinary threats," Biden said, using the acronym for the People's Republic of China.

Major Chinese firms included on the previous Defence Department list were also placed on the updated list, including Aviation Industry Corp of China (AVIC), China Mobile Communications Group, China National Offshore Oil Corp (CNOOC), Hangzhou Hikvision Digital Technology Co Ltd, Huawei Technologies Ltd and Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corp (SMIC).

The move is part of Biden's broader series of steps to counter China, including reinforcing US alliances and pursuing large domestic investments to bolster American economic competitiveness, amid increasingly sour relations between the world's two biggest economies.

The order said the ban would take effect on 2 August for those companies currently listed. US investors would still have 365 days from the date of this or future listings to make transactions for the purpose of divesting, and while it was not required, divesting later than 365 days after listing would be prohibited without authorization.

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