Foreign Policy

Trump to Blacklist More Chinese Companies Without Explanation

JM Ashby
Written by JM Ashby

Once you start singling out and adding specific foreign companies to an export control blacklist and never actually substantiate the decision, it's evidently a slippery slope.

The Trump regime justified the decision to prohibit American businesses from exporting goods to Chinese-owned telecommunications giant Huawei by saying, but never providing evidence, that the company is a threat to national security.

I'm not qualified to say if they are or not, but the Trump regime recently expanded those export controls to block even foreign companies, such as Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC), from exporting their products to Huawei if they're manufactured using an American-owned patent. And more recently, the regime imposed similar sanctions on China's largest chipmaker, Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corporation (SMIC), again with no explanation or substantial evidence.

Reuters reports that the Trump regime is now planning to add China’s Ant Group -- whose parent company is Alibaba (basically China's version of Amazon) -- to the Commerce Department's blacklist. And they're doing this even though Ant's mobile payment app is not actually available to Americans.

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. State Department has submitted a proposal for the Trump administration to add China’s Ant Group to a trade blacklist, according to two people familiar with the matter, before the financial technology firm is slated to go public.

The move comes as China hardliners in the Trump administration are seeking to send a message to deter U.S. investors from taking part in the initial public offering for Ant. The dual listing in Shanghai and Hong Kong could be worth up to a record $35 billion. [...]

While the Alipay payment app is currently unavailable for American users in the United States, according to a spokesperson for Ant, Trump administration officials fear the Chinese government could access sensitive banking data belonging to future U.S. users.

So, this looks like corporate sabotage carried by the U.S. government in the name of "national security."

China's foreign ministry had a similar reaction to the news, saying that the United States is "abusing the concept of national security" to "oppress foreign countries."

And you know what? I find it very hard to push back against that. It would be easier if the Trump regime actually substantiated a single thing.

I don't know exactly how the hypothetical Biden administration will handle China's growing technological and economic influence but, whatever they do, I believe we'll actually get some explanation for it. At the very least, I'll feel more confident that their decisions are not made on a whim or just because the president has a bug up his ass about various things or all the things.

We can't even say to what extent these decisions are being made just because Trump wants to look tough on the campaign trail because anything, even the worst possible explanations, are all plausible under Trump.

Trump himself has no integrity so it follows that his foreign policy has no integrity.

  • muselet

    If there’s a logic to blacklisting Ant Group, it’s really well-hidden.

    Alipay would be competing against Apple Pay, Google Pay and the contactless payment systems of just about every major retailer in the country. Unless there’s something jaw-droppingly wonderful about Alipay—it’s a mobile payment app, so I’ll guess there isn’t—it would start on the back foot here in the US.

    More likely, Reuters is right and this is the administration trying to scare investors away from the Ant IPO, just because it can. Which isn’t supposed to be in the remit of an American presidential administration, but since when has Donald Trump cared about little details like that?

    –alopecia