National Security

Trump Sets Up Last-Minute Sanctions Against China

SK Ashby
Written by SK Ashby

Politico recently reported that while Trump publicly claims the results of the election are still in dispute, his chief of staff, Mark Meadows, was privately telling aides to come up with as many last-minute regulations and executive orders as they could before Joe Biden is inaugurated on January 20th.

This appears to be one of those orders.

Bloomberg first reported earlier this year that anti-Chinese hardliners in the White House (mostly Ron Vara Peter Navarro) wanted to block American investment firms and pension funds from investing in Chinese-owned companies and Trump is finally doing that.

And like virtually everything else Trump has done to escalation tensions with China, they're invoking "national security" in his latest executive order.

The order, which was first reported by Reuters, could impact some of China’s biggest companies, including China Telecom Corp Ltd, China Mobile Ltd and surveillance equipment maker Hikvision.

The move is designed to deter U.S. investment firms, pension funds and others from buying shares of 31 Chinese companies that were designated by the Defense Department as backed by the Chinese military earlier this year.

Starting Jan. 11, the order will prohibit purchases by U.S. investors of the securities of those companies. Transactions made to divest ownership in the companies will be permitted until Nov. 11, 2021.

The most obvious way China could retaliate for this is by drawing up a similar list of American companies supported or "backed" by our own military and that would be a very, very long list. National defense and security represent a significant chunk of our entire economy. It's why defense budgets easily sail through Congress; because every district and state gets a piece of the spending pie.

In so many words, what I'm saying is Trump is making us hypocrites yet again.

If a Democratic president used their executive authority to tell investment firms in Jesus's Free Market what they can or cannot invest in, Republicans would scream at the top of their COVID-riddled lungs, but it's just another day under Trump.

Trump's executive order against investments in Chinese-owned companies won't take effect until the week before Biden is inaugurated in January so it's possible this will never be enforced. And I doubt anyone who matters will object if Biden repeals the order. If anything, we may see conservative columnists blame Biden for the policy as soon as he takes offices even if it was Trump's policy. But that will be true of many things, won't it?

White House trade adviser Peter Navarro estimated that at least half a trillion dollars in market capitalization was represented by the Chinese companies and their subsidiaries.

“This is a sweeping order designed to choke off American capital to China’s militarization,” he told reporters on a call.

If "militarization" is the world's biggest dick-swinging contest, conservatives are not handling it well.