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Politics Biden Follows Trump With Tight Curbs on U.S. Tech Sales to China

10:50  15 april  2021
10:50  15 april  2021 Source:   bloomberg.com

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Last week, the Biden administration added seven Chinese supercomputing firms to the list of entities that U . S . businesses can’t sell to without special permission. It was an expansion of the crackdown that began under Trump with curbs on exports to Chinese companies like Huawei Technologies Co. “The Biden administration appears as though it’ s following many of the Trump administration’ s policies with respect to China , and in some cases strengthening them,” said Cordell Hull, who led the Bureau of Industry and Security, the Commerce Department agency in charge of export controls, from November 2019 to

Tech analysts say the Trump administration has issued a few licenses allowing such sales , and that the Biden administration may be open to a bit more relaxation for lower- tech chips. “It’ s clear to us there is a continued muscular approach to China in the cards, and what may change, it sounds like the tone may change,” he said. Biden ’ s approach will be shaped in part by the need to work with Congress, where many Republicans and some Democrats have called for more curbs on Chinese technology and on trade with China , including a more rigorous review of Chinese investments in the United States.

(Bloomberg) -- President Joe Biden has ditched many of his predecessor’s policies, but he agrees with Donald Trump on the need to limit exports of U.S. technology to China.

Joe Biden wearing a suit and tie standing in front of a door © Bloomberg Joe Biden

Last week, the Biden administration added seven Chinese supercomputing firms to the list of entities that U.S. businesses can’t sell to without special permission. It was an expansion of the crackdown that began under Trump with curbs on exports to Chinese companies like Huawei Technologies Co.

Read More: U.S. Blacklists Seven Chinese Supercomputing Firms

That may signal a wider continuity in the U.S. stance toward China, its biggest economic rival. The Biden team is still reviewing the China policies it inherited from Trump -- including tariffs on more than $300 billion in annual imports, and a partial trade deal -- but has indicated that its strategy will be broadly similar.

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U . S .- China trade relations are likely to remain challenged after this week' s diplomatic talks showed that the Biden team will retain a tough tone with Beijing. "I had low expectations for Alaska and those expectations have been met," said attorney Clete Willems, who served as a trade advisor to President Trump . Yang Jiechi, director of the Central Foreign Affairs Commission of the Chinese Communist Party, said the U . S . "does not have the qualification to say that it wants to speak to China from a position of strength." Though the talks were seen more as a diplomatic exercise than an economic one, the prickly

Janet Yellen, Biden ’ s intended nominee for Treasury secretary, said during her confirmation hearing that the U . S . is “prepared to use the full array of tools” to address actions such as “dumping products, erecting trade barriers and giving illegal subsidies to corporations.” In the final weeks of his term, Trump has imposed investment restrictions on multiple Chinese companies said to be aiding China ’ s military operations. Biden ’ s team will have to decide whether to change those actions or continue on the hard-line path Trump has set out.

Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo said this month that Beijing “ doesn’t play fair,” and that the U.S. has to do what it takes to ensure American workers “have a shot.”

“The Biden administration appears as though it’s following many of the Trump administration’s policies with respect to China, and in some cases strengthening them,” said Cordell Hull, who led the Bureau of Industry and Security, the Commerce Department agency in charge of export controls, from November 2019 to December 2020. “They’re wrestling with what is a very complex issue. Time will tell whether their current posture holds, but I suspect it will.”

Biden has criticized aspects of Trump’s approach, which often involved announcing unilateral actions via surprise posts on Twitter. But there’s little support among either Democrats or Republicans for easing the pressure on China.

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Instead Biden appears to favor building a global coalition to force China into liberalizing its economy. "What I'd make China do is play by the international rules, not like he has done," Biden said during his second debate with Trump in October. "We need to be having the rest of our friends with us saying to China , 'These are the rules. There are also signs that Biden may embrace aspects of Trump ' s tech war against China . Under Trump , the US has tried to push diplomatic partners to reject 5G technology made in China , cut off Beijing from vital US components and targeted popular apps run by Chinese companies.

“ China ’ s expectation for the Biden administration is to re-set China - U . S . relations aimed at re-engagement and mutual benefit,” said Gao Zhikai, a former Chinese diplomat and translator for late Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping. “Poisoned China - U . S . relations need to be disinfected, and both China and America need to China Vows Countermeasures on U . S . Sanctions Against Its Firms. And as much as Trump ’ s tactics have exhausted officials in Beijing, they have done little to change their policies. Xi’ s government has accelerated its efforts to rein in independent voices in Hong Kong and to bolster its outposts in the South

Read More: U.S. Imposes New 5G License Limits on Some Huawei Suppliers

Export controls have been a tool of American foreign policy since at least the Cold War, when Congress enacted limits for national-security purposes to prevent sensitive goods being sold to the Soviet Union. American suppliers need U.S. government licenses if they plan to sell their technology to a business on the so-called entity list.

Biden’s new curbs go beyond expansion of that list. In March, the BIS informed some Huawei suppliers that it was tightening conditions on previously approved export licenses, prohibiting items for use in or with 5G devices.

The Commerce Department also said it will go ahead with a Trump-era proposal that allows it to block transactions involving “foreign adversaries,” and the department has issued subpoenas for several Chinese information technology and communications providers as part of a review of potential national security risks.

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U . S .- China relations worsened during Trump ' s term as the two countries engaged in a damaging trade war, competed on technology , and clashed over issues including human rights and the origins of Covid-19. Blinken on Tuesday referred to China as "the most significant challenge of any nation state to the United The U . S . is stronger when working with allies, as well as engaging with and leading international institutions, said Blinken, who reiterated a stance widely touted by Biden . "We have to start by approaching China from a position of strength, not weakness. And the good news is our ability to do that is largely

Former President Donald Trump very publicly attempted to influence Fed policy using his preferred medium: Twitter. In at least 100 tweets over the course of his presidency, Trump urged the central bank to slash interest rates while he escalated trade tensions with China . For Biden ’ s part, he says he has been Since the U . S . dollar trades against other currencies, it’ s a good idea to know where other central banks stand with respect to interest rate decisions. It can shed some light on global economic growth outlook. Another piece of economic data to keep an eye on this week: retail sales and inflation.

Read More: U.S. Signals It Will Implement Rule Curbing China Tech Threats

Here’s a look at some other areas where Biden may take action as his administration weighs whether to maintain, remove or build on Trump’s measures against China.

Digital Payment Apps

On Jan. 5, Trump signed an executive order banning U.S. transactions with eight Chinese digital-payment apps including Ant Group Co.’s Alipay and Tencent Holdings Ltd.’s digital wallets -- saying the move could help prevent personal information like texts, calls and photos from being gathered by an adversary.

The Biden administration didn’t implement that order before February’s deadline, and has given no indication on whether it plans to move ahead. If it does, the Commerce Department will need to draft rules outlining which payments will be outlawed.

The order targets Tencent’s QQ, QQ Wallet and WeChat Pay, as well as lesser-known apps CamScanner, SHAREit, VMate and WPS Office.

Military Companies

On Nov. 12, Trump signed an order banning American investments in Chinese firms owned or controlled by the military. Under that measure, trading in the relevant securities was barred with effect from Jan. 11.

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On Jan. 27, a week after Biden took office, the Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control announced that it will extend the wind-down period within which such transactions are permitted until May 27.

If the U.S. determines additional companies have military ties in the future, American investors will be given 60 days from that determination to divest. Trump administration officials decided against banning investment in Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. and Tencent as part of the January order.

TikTok and WeChat

On Aug. 6, Trump signed executive orders barring U.S. residents from doing business with the Chinese-owned TikTok and WeChat platforms, citing the risk of leaving Americans’ personal data exposed.

Later in the month, Trump ordered TikTok owner ByteDance Ltd. to sell its U.S. assets after an investigation by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the U.S., which reviews proposed acquisitions of American businesses by overseas investors for national security concerns.

The Biden White House hasn’t said if it sees the collection of Americans’ data as a security risk. But in February, the administration signaled it would slow down the unwinding of TikTok’s U.S. operations, asking a federal judge to pause a lawsuit over Trump’s ban of the popular video app until the review of China policies is complete.

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