Joe Biden Signs Order Banning US Investment in Chinese Surveillance Firms


President Joe Biden signed an executive order On Thursday, a Trump-era ban will be extended on Americans investing in Chinese companies with alleged ties to the Chinese military.

The order increases the number of restricted Chinese companies from 48 to 59. It also rewrites issued a previous order by former President Donald Trump to include companies that create and deploy surveillance technology, such as the technology used against Muslim minorities and dissidents in Hong Kong. The move indicates Biden plans to continue some of the same China-related policies previously enacted by the Trump administration.

The order does not include DJI, WeChat, TikTok or parent company ByteDance of the 59 companies, despite previous concerns about those companies’ ties to China. Last year, Trump signed an executive order to ban Chinese apps such as TikTok and WeChat from US app stores, but Thursday’s order is separate from Trump’s decision to ban these apps. In February, the Biden administration asked: a federal appeals court to suspend any legal process related to these app bans. It is still unclear how Biden plans to tackle the TikTok ban going forward.

“We fully expect that in the coming months we will … add additional companies to the restrictions of the new executive order,” a White House official said. Yahoo News Thursday.

The New York Times reports that the move is part of the Biden administration’s commitments to facilitate human rights abuses in China. For years, the Chinese government used a confluence of facial recognition technology, phone scanners and artificial intelligence as part of a sweeping surveillance campaign to bolster China’s police force.

The order will prohibit Americans from investing in these additional Chinese companies beginning Aug. 2. This also applies to Americans who invest in funds who then also invest in Chinese companies. The order allows current investors in these companies to divest their holdings over a one-year period.

Under this new order, the Ministry of Finance will be responsible for the list of banned companies. The Trump administration had previously placed authority on the Department of Defense.

The federal government has been pushing for broader action against Chinese tech and telecom companies for years. Last year, the Federal Communications Commission identified telecom companies Huawei and ZTE as threats to national security. Surveillance technology is sometimes sold as part of a package deal when countries abroad buy Huawei equipment, according to the turn. Last September, the FCC estimated it would cost $1.8 billion to “rip-and-replace” equipment from these companies already embedded in US networks; Congress has not yet allocated such funding.