Trump administration bolsters order barring U.S. investment in Chinese firms

Adds details on guidance, background

WASHINGTON, Dec 28 (Reuters)The Trump administration on Monday strengthened an executive order barring U.S. investors from buying securities of alleged Chinese military-controlled companies, following disagreement among U.S. agencies about how tough to make the directive.

The Treasury Department published guidance clarifying the executive order, released in November, would apply to exchange-traded funds and index funds as well as subsidiaries of Chinese companies designated as owned or controlled by the Chinese military.

The “frequently asked questions” release, posted on the Treasury website on Monday, came after Reuters and other news outlets reported that a debate was raging within the Trump administration over the guidance. The State Department and the Department of Defense (DOD) had pushed back against a bid by Treasury Department to water down the executive order, a source said.

Specifically, some media outlets reported that Treasury was seeking to exclude Chinese companies’ subsidiaries from the scope of the White House directive, which bars new purchases of securities of 35 Chinese companies that Washington alleges are backed by the Chinese military, starting in November 2021.

The guidance released on Monday specifies that the prohibitions apply to “any subsidiary of a Communist Chinese military company, after such subsidiary is publicly listed by Treasury.” It added that the agency “intends to list” publicly traded entities that are 50% or more owned by a Chinese military company or controlled by one.

The list of designated companies, which was mandated by a 1999 law, currently contains 35 companies, including oil company CNOOC Ltd 0883.HK and China’s top chipmaker, Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corp 0981.HK.

(Reporting by Alexandra Alper and Humeyra Pamuk in Washington and Karen Freifeld in New York Editing by Leslie Adler and Matthew Lewis)

((Alexandra.Alper@thomsonreuters.com; +1(202)354-5865; Reuters Messaging: alexandra.alper.thomsonreuters.com@reuters.nethttps://twitter.com/alexalper?lang=en))

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