Thursday 12 November 2020 8:34 pm

Trump bans US investments in firms controlled by Chinese military

Donald Trump has signed an executive order banning U.S. investments in Chinese firms that Washington says are owned or controlled by its military.

The order could impact some of China’s biggest companies, including telecoms firms China Telecom Corp Ltd, China Mobile Ltd and surveillance equipment maker Hikvision.

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The move is designed to deter U.S. investment firms, pension funds and others from buying and selling shares of 31 Chinese companies that were considered by the defense department as backed by the Chinese military earlier this year. Starting 11 January, the order will prohibit any transaction by U.S. investors in their securities.

In his executive order, Donald Trump said he found China was “increasingly exploiting United States capital to resource and to enable the development and modernization of its military, intelligence, and other security apparatuses, which continues to allow the PRC to directly threaten the United States homeland and United States forces overseas, including by developing and deploying weapons of mass destruction, advanced conventional weapons, and malicious cyber-enabled actions against the United States and its people.”

Trump later added: “Key to the development of the PRC’s military, intelligence, and other security apparatuses is the country’s large, ostensibly private economy. Through the national strategy of Military-Civil Fusion, the PRC increases the size of the country’s military-industrial complex by compelling civilian Chinese companies to support its military and intelligence activities.

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“Those companies, though remaining ostensibly private and civilian, directly support the PRC’s military, intelligence, and security apparatuses and aid in their development and modernization.”

The move indicates Trump, who was defeated by the Democratic challenger Joe Biden in the Nov. 3 election, is seeking to take advantage of the waning months of his administration to ramp up pressure on Beijing.

The President has signed numerous executive orders in the past, including an order that was designed to weaken the legal protections around social media companies.