Few had any illusions that US President Joe Biden was going to be tough on China if he came into power. Any naive hopes of a rapprochement had already been put to bed by the tense scenes at the Alaska Summit between the American and Chinese delegations. Now the White House has put words into action, banning US investments in 59 Chinese defence and tech firms, up from 31 previously.

The restrictions build on so-called “Executive Order (EO) 13959” issued by the Trump administration, with the stated aim of curtailing China’s “military-industrial complex”. The Biden administration has extended the EO by finding that firms allegedly involved in the use of Chinese surveillance technology outside its borders, and the development and use of such technology to “facilitate repression or serious human rights abuses, constitute unusual and extraordinary threats”.

A fact sheet by the White House noted that the new EO will prohibit US persons from purchasing or selling publicly traded securities of affected businesses starting Aug 2. Firms caught up in the ban include Huawei Technologies, as well as public-listed firms such as China Telecom and CNOOC. Recourse is available to firms wishing to petition for removal from the blacklist by applying to the US Office of Foreign Assets Control.

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