China-US Economic Ties

US Lawmakers Seek Power to Block Investment in China


US lawmakers called on Tuesday for President Joe Biden to issue an executive order to boost oversight of investments by US companies and individuals in China and other countries.

Congress has been considering legislation that would give the US government sweeping new powers to block billions in US outbound investments into China.

The proposal was removed from bipartisan legislation to subsidize US semiconductor chips manufacturing and research in a bill approved in August.

A bipartisan group of lawmakers including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Republican Senator John Cornyn urged Biden to issue an order to “safeguard our national security and supply chain resiliency on outbound investments to foreign adversaries.”

The lawmakers, including Democrats Bill Pascrell, House Appropriations chair Rosa DeLauro, Senator Bob Casey and Republicans Brian Fitzpatrick and Victoria Spartz, said in a letter to Biden that as negotiations continue, “our national security cannot afford to wait.”

They urged the president “to safeguard our national security and supply chain resiliency on outbound investments to foreign adversaries.”

The White House did not comment. But Liu Pengyu, a spokesperson for the Chinese embassy in Washington, said: “The allegation that China is hurting the interests of American workers is completely wrong.”

The United States “should maintain the stability of the global industrial and supply chains rather than pick on China from time to time,” the official added.



No Decision Yet

White House national security official Peter Harrell said this month that the Biden administration has not made a final decision on a potential outbound investment mechanism regulating US investments in China.

Harrell stressed that any measure targeting such investments should be narrowly tailored to address gaps in existing US authorities and specific national security risks.

“When we cede our manufacturing power and technological know-how to foreign adversaries, we are hurting our economy, our global competitiveness, American workers, industry and national security. Government action on this front is long overdue to address the scope and magnitude of these serious risks we face as a country,” the lawmakers wrote.

The Senate Banking Committee on Thursday will hold a hearing on outbound investment that will feature testimony from Cornyn, Casey and several former government officials among them Information Technology Industry Council Executive Vice President Robert Strayer.

The proposed legislation is intended to give the government greater visibility into US investments. It would be mandatory to notify the government of investments that may fall under the new regulations, and the United States could use existing authorities to stop investments, or mitigate risk. If no action is taken, the investment can move forward.


  • Reuters with additional editing by Jim Pollard





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Jim Pollard

Jim Pollard is an Australian journalist based in Thailand since 1999. He worked for News Ltd papers in Sydney, Perth, London and Melbourne before travelling through SE Asia in the late 90s. He was a senior editor at The Nation for 17+ years and has a family in Bangkok.

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