President Trump signed an executive order on Thursday banning US investments in companies that Washington claims are linked to China’s military. Earlier this year, 31 Chinese companies were designated as backed by China’s military, laying the groundwork for sanctions.
In the executive order, President Trump said Beijing is “increasingly exploiting United States capital to resource and to enable the development and modernization of its military, intelligence, and other security apparatuses, which continues to allow the PRC to directly threaten the United States homeland and United States forces overseas.”
The order will go into effect on January 11th, nine days before Joe Biden is expected to be inaugurated. The move comes a few days after Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the Trump administration is “not finished yet” with being tough on China.
The US also slapped sanctions on officials in China and Hong Kong this week over Hong Kong’s national security law. On Wednesday, National Security Advisor Robert O’Brien hinted that more Hong Kong-related sanctions are in the works.
Among the 31 companies the US considers to be “backed” by the Chinese military is the tech firm Huawei that specializes in 5G technologies. The US has been hard at work pressuring its allies not to do business with Huawei. The pressure has worked in some countries, like the UK, where Huawei has been banned from 5G networks.
The common accusation against Huawei is that they use their cell phones and networks as surveillance systems. The US depends on control of worldwide cell phone networks for its NSA surveillance systems. The lack of control and access the US has over Huawei and its networks could be the real reason Washington is so against it.
Leaks from former NSA contractor Edward Snowden revealed the NSA hacked Huawei in the past. According to a Snowden document obtained by The New York Times and Der Spiegel, the NSA hacked Huawei’s main servers in 2007.
The NSA viewed the increasing amount of internet communications going through Huawei as a “unique” threat to the agency’s ability to conduct surveillance. “Many of our targets communicate over Huawei produced products, we want to make sure that we know how to exploit these products,” the NSA document said.