Trump bans US investment in Chinese military-linked firms

BEIJING (AP) — United States (US) President Donald Trump has stepped up a conflict with China over security and technology by issuing an order barring Americans from investing in companies that US officials said are owned or controlled by the Chinese military.

The impact of the order on Thursday wasn’t immediately clear but it could add to pressure on companies including telecom equipment giant Huawei and video surveillance provider Hikvision that already face US export bans and other sanctions.

It is Trump’s first major action toward China since he lost his re-election bid to challenger Joe Biden. Economists and political analysts have said even if Trump was defeated he was likely to launch more actions before leaving office on January 20.

Political analysts expect little change in policy under Biden due to widespread frustration with China’s trade and human rights records and accusations of spying and technology theft.

US officials complain China’s ruling Communist Party takes advantage of access to American technology and investment to expand its military, already one of the world’s biggest and most heavily armed.

Thursday’s order complains the companies targetted “directly support” the Chinese military, intelligence and security apparatus. It said Beijing “exploits US investors” to finance military development by selling securities in American and foreign financial markets.

The order bars American investors from conducting any transactions in publicly traded securities issued by any Chinese companies designated by the secretary of defence as being linked to the Communist Party’s military wing, the People’s Liberation Army.

A Chinese flag hangs near a Hikvision security camera outside of a shop in Beijing. PHOTO: AP