Biden to issue U.S. investment restrictions on some high-tech industries in China

The Biden administration plans to issue an executive order Wednesday restricting U.S. investment in some high-tech industries in China, an administration official confirmed to NBC News.

The executive order, which was first reported by The New York Times, is narrow and targeted, and comes amid growing tensions with China. It includes restrictions on U.S. investments on high-tech sectors in China such as quantum computing, artificial intelligence and advanced semi-conductors, the official said, adding that the executive order is set to be announced at 4 p.m.

The White House declined to comment. The Treasury and Commerce departments did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

NBC News reported in June that the administration had been “slow walking” certain punitive economic measures against China, including the executive order, as U.S. officials have sought to repair relations with China. An administration official said at the time that some “policy components” of the executive order still needed to be worked through.

The Biden administration rattled Beijing in October when it imposed export controls designed to block China’s access to sophisticated chipmaking tools that Washington said could be used by the Chinese military.

The administration was expected to follow up with more restrictions on U.S.-made semiconductor technology, including a new executive order on any American investment linked to China’s defense industry.

Biden administration officials, however, have denied delaying actions against China in the interest of national security. Officials have stressed that they’ve continued to impose sanctions on Chinese organizations as well as operate military aircraft and naval ships in the region. They have also emphasized that the U.S. has taken targeted, not broad, actions against Beijing in recent months.

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen defended U.S. actions to protect national security interests in remarks last month during her meeting with Chinese Premier Li Qiang.

“The United States will, in certain circumstances, need to pursue targeted actions to protect its national security,” Yellen said during her trip to China. “And we may disagree in these instances.”

National security adviser Jake Sullivan said in April that the U.S. has implemented “carefully tailored restrictions on the most advanced semiconductor technology exports” to China.

“Those restrictions are premised on straightforward national security concerns. Key allies and partners have followed suit, consistent with their own security concerns,” Sullivan said in remarks at the Brookings Institution.

“These are tailored measures. They are not, as Beijing says, a ‘technology blockade,’” he added. “They are not targeting emerging economies. They are focused on a narrow slice of technology and a small number of countries intent on challenging us militarily.”

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