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Biden Administration Upholds Trump-Era Bans on 59 Chinese Tech Companies

(Image credit: Dilok Klaisataporn/Shutterstock)

The White House announced Thursday that U.S. President Joe Biden has extended restrictions imposed by the Trump administration that prevent U.S. firms from doing business with 59 tech companies associated with the Chinese military-industrial complex.

This order serves the same primary function as Executive Order 13959, which was issued by President Donald Trump in November 2020 but uses different language. It also revokes Executive Order 13974—which Trump issued in January to extend the the reach of his previous order—and rescinds associated “orders or prohibitions.”

Biden said that “additional steps are necessary to address the national emergency declared in Executive Order 13959 … including the threat posed by the military-industrial complex of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) and its involvement in military, intelligence, and security research and development programs, and weapons and related equipment production under the PRC’s Military-Civil Fusion strategy."

Biden also said in the order 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” to the “national security, foreign policy and economy of the United States.”

A list of the companies affected by these restrictions are found in the order. The list appears to be slightly different from the one included with Executive Order 13959 but is largely the same, and its most well-known member continues to be Huawei, (which has been a focal point for the U.S.-China trade war since 2019).

It was previously unclear if Biden would continue to restrict trade with Chinese tech companies or if relations with China would improve after Trump left office. This order provides some clarity. It also complicates things for U.S. businesses that might have expected to be able to return to the status quo following Biden’s election.

The restrictions imposed by these orders—as well as additional tariffs on goods imported from China—led some companies to at least consider moving their production facilities to other countries starting in 2019. But those efforts slowed as Biden took office and COVID-19 halted plans to build factories outside China.

Additional information about this new executive order is available in a fact sheet on the White House website. The restrictions imposed by the order are set to go into effect on August 2 for companies that were listed on the initial order and will apply to any companies that have been added to the order 60 days after their addition.