Accusing the 59 companies of activities gravely detrimental to America and its allies, Biden’s expanded order was a further step toward estranging US-Sino relations, already troubled during the years of his predecessor Donald Trump.
“This E.O. allows the United States to prohibit – in a targeted and scoped manner – US investments in Chinese companies that undermine the security or democratic values of the United States and our allies,” the White House said, referring to the directive signed by Biden, that expands on an original executive order by Trump.
Specifically, US persons will be prohibited “from engaging in the purchase or sale of any publicly traded securities” with the listed Chinese companies or individuals determined to be connected with them, White House added.
Biden separately wrote to US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who leads his Democratic Party in Congress, to inform her of the matter.
“I find that the use of Chinese surveillance technology outside the PRC and the development or use of Chinese surveillance technology to facilitate repression or serious human rights abuse constitute unusual and extraordinary threats, which have their source in whole or substantial part outside the United States, to the national security, foreign policy, and economy of the United States, and I hereby expand the scope of the national emergency declared in Executive Order 13959 to address those threats,” Biden said in a letter to Pelosi.
The expanded US action against the Chinese military and surveillance firms came hours after China's Vice Premier Liu He hailed earlier on Thursday in Beijing the resumption of "normal discussions" with the United States, after he held two video calls with U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai and Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen within a week.
Biden, who took office in January, has had a rocky start to his relationship with China. Beijing had expected friendlier ties with Washington after a bruising patch with Trump who called the COVID-19, which originally broke out in Wuhan, a “Chinese virus” and also carried out on an 18-month trade war with China, while targeting Chinese businesses for alleged spying on US interests.
Biden, who has undone most of Trump’s executive orders on immigration, climate and other matters, has left intact his predecessor’s tariffs, indicating he might use them to pressure Beijing into making concessions on trade and other issues.
Biden also surprised China by recently directing the US intelligence community to redouble efforts to investigate the origins of COVID-19 and to report their findings to him in 90 days — an action analysts said could aggravate anti-Asian sentiment in the United States and potentially worldwide.