Mnuchin dismisses reports of tech restrictions on China

WASHINGTON (AP) — Trump administration officials are denying reports that the United States is readying limitations this week on Chinese investment in American technology companies and high-tech exports to China. But the White House itself earlier announced plans to unveil the restrictions by Saturday.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said on Twitter Monday that reports by the Wall Street Journal and Bloomberg news are “false, fake news. The leaker either doesn’t exist or know the subject very well” and that any restrictions would not be aimed solely at China but at “all countries that are trying to steal our technology.”

Mnuchin’s comment contradicts a May 29 White House statement, which said “the United States will implement specific investment restrictions and enhanced export controls for Chinese persons and entities related to the acquisition of industrially significant technology.” It said the controls would be announced by June 30 and would “be implemented shortly thereafter.”

Further confusing matters, White House trade adviser Peter Navarro told CNBC Monday that “there’s no plans to impose investment restrictions on any countries that are interfering in any way with our country.”

Talk of investment restrictions knocked the Dow Jones industrial average down 328.09 points, or 1.3 percent, to 24,252.80 — though the Dow recovered from deeper losses after Navarro’s comments.

The Trump administration accuses Beijing of predatory practices in its attempt to supplant U.S. technological dominance, including cybertheft and forcing U.S. companies to turn over technology in exchange for access to China’s market. It is planning to impose tariffs on $34 billion in Chinese goods July 6 — a figure that could rise to $450 billion if China refuses to back down and retaliates with sanctions of its own.

In Beijing, China’s foreign ministry expressed concern over the reports that Trump plans to curb Chinese investments in the United States, and urged Washington to provide a “good, fair, and predictable” environment for Chinese companies.

“We hope the U.S. side will see these (Chinese) companies’ business activities in an objective manner, and provide Chinese companies a good, fair and predictable environment for their investment and business activities,” Foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said.

The Wall Street Journal, citing unidentified sources, said the initiatives were aimed at preventing Beijing from moving ahead with plans to develop companies able to compete globally in technologies including biotech and electric vehicles.

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