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Biden adds surveillance firms to blacklist of Chinese companies

SMIC is rapidly expanding its capacity across China
SMIC expects capital expenditure to be roughly flat this year. Photo: AFP

Sanctions target new companies involved in surveillance technology used to ‘facilitate repression or serious human rights abuses’ in addition to firms already blacklisted by Trump

(AF) The US government 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 China.

President Joe Biden signed an executive order banning investments in 59 companies, including Huawei, the telecoms equipment manufacturer, and Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corporation, China’s largest chipmaker.

The latest batch of 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.

“I have determined that additional steps are necessary to address … the threat posed by [China’s] military-industrial complex… and its involvement in military, intelligence, and security research and development programmes, and weapons and related equipment production,” Biden added.

“In addition, I find that the use of Chinese surveillance technology … and the development or use of Chinese surveillance technology to facilitate repression or serious human rights abuse constitute unusual and extraordinary threats,” Biden said.


China Satellite Communications, Jiangxi Hongdu Aviation Industry and Zhonghang Electronic Measuring Instruments are among companies added to the list.

The initial list published under the previous Donald Trump administration included major telecommunications, construction and technology companies such as China Mobile, China Telecom, video surveillance firm Hikvision and China Railway Construction.

It was among a series of measures by the White House that have left ties between the two countries severely strained.

Trump had prohibited Americans from buying stakes in 31 Chinese companies that were deemed to be supplying or supporting China’s military and security apparatus, and Biden’s move expands the blacklist to 59.


Beijing vowed to protect Chinese companies’ rights, claiming the blacklist 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 before the new list was announced.

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

“At first glance, it’s quite an extraordinary list of Chinese corporate names,” Roger Robinson, former chair of the Congressional US-China Economic and Security Review Commission who heads RWR Advisory Group, a consultancy, told the Financial Times.

“The momentum begun by the previous administration on capital markets sanctions appears to have been sustained and built on,” he added.

The Pentagon is expected to release an updated version of its list of Chinese companies with military connections, after Congress required the Defence department to provide a new list each year.

With reporting by Agence France-Presse


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