Pentagon's blacklisting of more Chinese firms part of concerted efforts to suppress China: analysts
Framing business, technological competition in military context 'dangerous'
Published: Feb 01, 2024 09:11 PM
A chip manufacture machine Photo: VCG

A chip manufacture machine Photo: VCG

China's Foreign Ministry on Thursday slammed a move by the US Defense Department to add a dozen Chinese companies to a blacklist on the excuse of prohibiting American technologies from aiding the Chinese military. The ministry urged the US to immediately correct its discriminatory practices and provide a fair, just and non-discriminatory environment for Chinese enterprises to operate in.

Chinese observers said the decision to frame business and technological competition between China and the US using a military perspective is inappropriate and a dangerous move that deserves warning.

The Pentagon released an update to its list of so-called "Chinese military companies" operating directly or indirectly in the US on Wednesday (US time). Chinese companies, including memory chip producer YMTC and artificial intelligence company Megvii, were among the new additions.

China firmly opposes the move by the US to overstretch the national security concept and its moves to draw up various discriminatory lists aimed at cracking down on Chinese companies, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin told a routine press briefing on Thursday.

Such moves violate the principles of market competition and international economic and trade rules, which the US has always flaunted, and will affect the confidence of foreign companies investing and operating in the US, harm the interests of US companies and investors, and eventually undermine its own status, Wang said.

Li Yong, a senior research fellow at the China Association of International Trade, told the Global Times on Thursday that the Pentagon's move is another manifestation of the mindset of some people in the US who regard China as an imaginary enemy.

The decision to incorporate a military perspective into the commercial and technological competition between China and the US is highly inappropriate and a dangerous move that calls for a warning, Li Yong said.

Ministry spokesperson Wang pointed out that the US government has itself been a main practitioner of the military-civil fusion strategy ever since before the First World War. 

The US Department of Defense has set up offices in major technology-focused areas such as Silicon Valley in California to guide high-tech companies to accelerate the militarization of technology into actual combat. Many large American multinational companies are part of a military-civilian complex, and their business scope and products span the military and civilian fields, Wang noted.

"We urge the US to immediately correct its discriminatory practices and provide a fair, just and non-discriminatory environment for Chinese enterprises to operate in. China will continue to firmly safeguard the legitimate rights and interests of its enterprises," the spokesperson said.

The announcement by the Pentagon came amid a new wave of crackdowns by the US state apparatus against Chinese companies.

On Tuesday, the Office of the United States Trade Representative released the latest so-called Notorious Markets List that claimed China was the No.1 source of counterfeit products in the world and called out China-based e-commerce and social commerce companies such as Taobao, WeChat, DHGate and Pinduoduo.

On the same day, the US Congress reportedly considered new ways to restrict US investment in China that involves sensitive technology, according to the South China Morning Post.

In another apparent move to hamper the regular business operations of Chinese companies, US authorities launched on-site searches at a Chinese-funded company's North American office.

Li Haidong, a professor at China Foreign Affairs University, told the Global Times on Thursday that the rather concentrated thrusts of a series of lists indicate that US government departments are staging a concerted effort in their bottomless crackdown on China.

"The events also showed that the US is giving just lip service when it promises its allies that it is only undertaking de-risking and diversification from China. In reality, the US state apparatus is pushing for nothing less than a decoupling," Li Haidong said. 

"These reckless crackdowns are aimed at containing and suppressing China on different fronts with the ultimate wishful thinking that it could face an injured China from a position of strength. It must be said that such an approach, filled with arrogance and prejudice, will not succeed," Li Haidong said.

Analysts said the latest US move is in stark contrast to its statements that it is ready to keep growing economic and trade relations with China and does not seek to contain or suppress China's development, and it runs counter to the common understandings reached between the leaders of the two countries in San Francisco, urging the US to immediately come back to its commitments.