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June 4, 2021
Apparently buying shares in a company materially helps it, so the US has extended its efforts to starve Chinese companies of investment.
Inevitably this is framed as a ‘national emergency’ as is anything else the government feels like imposing on the world. The emergency in question was actually announced by the Trump presidency last November in the form of the gift that keeps giving that is Executive Order 13959. The US long ago dispensed with the cumbersome and inefficient process of drafting and debating laws and the country is now run by presidential decree.
At the start of the year the New York Stock Exchange got itself in a tangle trying to interpret this particular EO and decided to sit on its hands until the new President offered clarification. That resulted in the three major Chinese MNOs being delisted from the NYSE last month.
President Biden was apparently happy with how that felt because he’s decided to ban investment in a bunch more companies. It’s more of an updated list because Huawei and the MNOs are still on it despite already being nice and banned. You can see the list as an appendix here and it seems to cover mainly technology and infrastructure companies.
“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,” said Biden, or so we’re told. Edward Snowden is presumably among the people who find it ironic to hear a US President say such things.
There are so many other things wrong with this policy, over and above the lack of due process and hilarious hypocrisy. The trade of public shares doesn’t directly confer any benefit to the company in question because it no longer owns them, so it’s unclear how the US thinks preventing its citizens from doing so will have any effect whatsoever on the funds available to these companies.
Even more egregious, however, is the unilateral conscription of US citizens into this economic war. America is supposed to be the land of the free but every day brings a new set of restrictions on behaviour from its government. What an individual chooses to buy and sell should be no concern of any government beyond the scope of law enforcement. By recklessly curtailing the civil liberties of its citizens the US is currently doing far more damage to itself than Chinese Military could dream of.
As the Editorial Director of Telecoms.com, Scott oversees all editorial activity on the site and also manages the Telecoms.com Intelligence arm, which focuses on analysis and bespoke content.
Scott has been covering the mobile phone and broader technology industries for over ten years. Prior to Telecoms.com Scott was the primary smartphone specialist at industry analyst Strategy Analytics’. Before that Scott was a technology journalist, covering the PC and telecoms sectors from a business perspective.
Follow him @scottbicheno
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