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TikTok payback. China prepares list of US companies to blacklist

PortandTerminal.com, September 21, 2020

Beijing issues rules that could allow it to halt exports, imports and investments by businesses accused of “endangering national security”.

BEIJING – The Wall Street Journal is reporting (paywall) today that China has sped up its development of a blacklist that could be used to punish American technology firms in response to President Trump’s ban on TikTok and WeChat.

The “Unreliable-Entity” List

In recent weeks, according to people with knowledge of the matter, an interagency group led by Vice Premier Hu Chunhua, who oversees foreign investment and trade, has stepped up finalization of the “unreliable-entity” list—China’s answer to the U.S.’s list of Chinese entities it is targeting for sanctions.

China’s Commerce Ministry gave more details on Saturday indicating a list was near completion, saying blacklisted companies and individuals would be banned from both selling to and buying from China, and from investing in the country. However, it again refrained from disclosing any names. The ministry said in its statement that the list is “strictly limited to a very small number of illegal foreign entities.”

So who’s on the list? The internet is swirling with speculation today. CNBC published today their list of the most plausible targets of Chinese retribution. Other sources of drawn up similar lists of possible targets.

One U.S. company that so far has made all the individual lists is Cisco Systems, sources say. The maker of networking equipment, which competes with Huawei, already has lost contracts to supply some of its long-term Chinese customers, such as China’s large state-owned telecom carriers. Cisco declined to comment.

Release the list or wait on US election results?

Donald Trump holding bible. Joe Biden standing in front of American flag.

Chinese officials are saying that their leaders are hesitating to pull the trigger, with some arguing a decision on the list should wait till after the U.S. election.

The debate highlights Beijing’s continued grappling with how to respond to the Trump administration without driving the relationship closer to collapse.

Many in China are hoping to reset relations with the U.S. should Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden defeat Mr. Trump. In their view, the strategic rivalry between the two sides is here to stay, but there are areas where Beijing could work with a Biden administration. 

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