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US won’t ban investments in Alibaba, Tencent and Baidu, but 9 more companies set to be off limits

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Following a weeks-long disagreement between Treasury officials and the State Department, the Trump administration reportedly decided not to ban U.S. investments in Chinese tech giants Alibaba, Tencent, and Baidu, but it will ban Americans from investing in nine other companies in a move. this further aggravates tensions between the world’s two largest economies.

Highlights

The Defense Ministry plans to add nine companies, which have not yet been publicly identified, to its list of “Communist Chinese military companies” as of Wednesday, the Wall Street newspaper first reported.

Despite reports to opposite, US officials have finally decided against adding Alibaba, Tencent and Baidu to the list after Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and others in the department feared it would trigger economic fallout spurred by widespread sales at Chinese giants of the highly traded technology.

The updated list is expected to bring the total number of companies considered “Chinese military-owned or controlled” to 40; Others on the list include China Telecom, China Mobile, and famous smartphone maker Huawei.

President Donald Trump Posted a decree in November effectively banning investments in these companies from January 11; according to the Wall Street newspaper, US investors have until November to sell shares of one of the newly banned companies.

U.S.-listed Alibaba and Tencent shares jumped 6% and 3% immediately after the report, while Baidu shares on the Nasdaq were roughly flat.

The Ministry of Defense did not immediately respond to Forbes‘request for comment.

Tangent

In response to Trump’s decree, the New York Stock Exchange nearly delisted China Telecom, China Mobile, and China Unicom, but retrograde on the January 4 decision after “further consultations with the relevant regulatory authorities”.

Crucial quote

Companies identified by the Defense Ministry as owned or controlled by the Chinese military are raising capital by selling securities to American investors who trade on public exchanges at home and abroad, putting pressure on suppliers of indexes and US funds to include those securities in market offerings and by engaging in other acts to secure access to US capital, Executive Order said. In this way the [Peoples Republic of China] exploits American investors to finance the development and modernization of its military.

Key context

The Trump administration has taken huge steps to crack down on perceived spy threats from Chinese multinationals. The president declared a national emergency to facilitate the November decree, saying China is forcing Chinese civilian companies to support its military and intelligence activities, thus posing an unusual and extraordinary threat to national national security. Meanwhile, the Justice Department indicted Huawei in 2019 for allegedly stealing trade secrets from T-Mobile, and in February it charged additional costs on the conglomerate for alleged racketeering and further conspiracy to steal trade secrets from six US companies.

Further reading

Americans will not be banned from investing in Alibaba, Tencent and Baidu (The Wall Street Journal)

Trump bans Americans from investing in Chinese companies that support Chinese military (Forbes)

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