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Sen. Cotton, bipartisan lawmakers call for Pentagon list of companies linked to China’s military

U.S. Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) Jan. 8, 2020. (Stefani Reynolds/CNP/Zuma Press/TNS)
June 02, 2021

A group of bipartisan lawmakers, including Senators Tom Cotton (R-AR), Gary Peters (D-MI), Mark Kelly (D-AZ), and Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Representatives Mike Gallagher (R-WI), Ruben Gallego (D-AZ), and Liz Cheney (R-WY) sent a letter on Tuesday calling on the Department of Defense to release a report identifying Chinese military companies, which has been delayed for more than a month.

The list is mandated in the defense budget for 2021 and could be used in line with a still active executive order by President Donald Trump, which would bar U.S. investment in those Chinese companies.

The letter, addressed to Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, said, “We write to urge you to send Congress the delayed Department of Defense report on Chinese military companies mandated under the FY2021 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).”

The 2021 NDAA included a provision that by April 15, 2021, the Pentagon would provide a list to the House and Senate of each entity identified to be a Chinese military company and annually updated the list until December 31, 2030, including new Chinese companies added to the list and an explanation, where applicable, if a company has been removed from the list.

The provision of the 2021 NDAA comes in addition to then-President Trump’s Executive Order 13959, enacted on November 12, 2020, which prohibited U.S. investment in securities, of any Communist Chinese military company and requiring U.S. companies to eventually divest from their existing holdings in those companies.

The Financial Times reported the Pentagon list of Chinese military companies was delayed amid a Biden administration review of Trump’s executive order and deliberations about whether to maintain the order. The deadline for the Pentagon to provide the list was pushed back from April 15 to May 27.

As of Tuesday, the Pentagon was about a month and a half overdue from the original deadline to provide the list of Chinese military companies to Congress.

“The U.S. government must continue to act boldly in blocking the Chinese Communist Party’s economic predation against our industrial base,” the bipartisan letter read. “We must not allow China to erode America’s military primacy. We urge you to submit this report on Section 1260H companies to the House and Senate Armed Services Committees and publish it in the Federal Register as soon as possible.”

Cotton, one of the lead-signers of the letter, also tweeted, “Law requires the Department of Defense to name all the Chinese military companies operating in the U.S. That list is a month overdue. The DOD should publish this report immediately to block American technology and funding from flowing to the [Chinese People’s Liberation Army].

Keith Krach, the former Under Secretary of State for Economic Growth, Energy, and the Environment, recently said the Chinese companies Alibaba, Tencent and Baidu are vital tools to the Chinese military and the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) surveillance apparatus and should be blocked from U.S. investment.

These three companies are perhaps the most important companies to the Chinese military and to the surveillance state,” Krach said in an interview on May 20 with the Center for a New American Security.

Rubio and Cotton also recently raised opposition to Christopher Fonzone, President Joe Biden’s nominee to serve as general counsel to the Director of National Intelligence (DNI), over Fonzone’s past legal work on behalf of the Chinese government and the Chinese technology company Huawei and his refusal to rule out future work on China’s behalf.