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Mnuchin: ‘US will crack down on all countries stealing our technology, not just China’

U.S. Secretary of the Treasury Steven T. Mnuchin visiting Jet Blue's Long Island City Support Center to meet with the company's leadership and crew members Friday, March 9, 2018 in Queens, New York. (Kevin C. Downs/New York Daily News/TNS)
June 27, 2018

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin took to Twitter on Monday to clarify the “false” and “fake” media reports that suggested the U.S. would specifically block Chinese investments in U.S. tech companies over security concerns.

In his tweet, Mnuchin reaffirmed that the rumored policy was not China-specific and would be announced at a later date.

“On behalf of [President Donald Trump], the stories on investment restrictions in Bloomberg & WSJ are false, fake news. The leaker either doesn’t exist or know the subject very well. Statement will be out not specific to China, but to all countries that are trying to steal our technology,” Mnuchin said.

The reports Mnuchin referred to from Bloomberg and the Wall Street Journal cited eight anonymous White House sources who revealed a new plan to heighten scrutiny of Chinese investments in certain U.S. industries.

The sources claimed that the White House would utilize one of the most significant legal measures available to declare Chinese investment in specific U.S. companies a threat to economic and national security. More specifically, the new plan would mainly encompass tech companies involved in new energy vehicles, robotics and aerospace.

Furthermore, the reports claimed that the Treasury is currently considering rules that would block firms with at least 25 percent Chinese ownership from purchasing U.S. companies in “industrially significant” technologies.

While Mnuchin did not outright deny that such a policy was under consideration, he stressed that the plan was not specifically targeted at China.

Mnuchin is expected to make an announcement regarding any new policy on Friday, with the Wall Street Journal suggesting that the Trump Administration would initiate the plan through the Committee on Foreign Investments in the U.S.

Trump in recent weeks has taken a tough stance on Chinese tech firms in particular, and even imposed a $1.3 billion fine on telecomm equipment maker ZTE, citing security concerns.

The rumors of a policy change come amid escalating trade tensions between the U.S. and China, with President Trump’s talk of tariffs and fair trade picking up steam.

Mnuchin said earlier this year that any new trade regulations proposed by the Trump Administration, including new tariffs, would be a positive, long-term move for the U.S.

“I don’t expect to see a big impact on the economy,” Mnuchin told Fox News back in March. “But again, I think what we’re doing is, long-term, very good for the economy.”