On December 10, the US Treasury Department imposed sanctions, including a bar on American investments, on SenseTime, a Chinese artificial intelligence firm accused of developing facial-recognition software used to focus on China’s predominantly Muslim Uyghur group. The transfer, a part of a raft of sanctions launched on Human Rights Day, prompted SenseTime to postpone a deliberate IPO in Hong Kong.
Officially, Treasury added SenseTime to its Chinese Military-Industrial Complex (CMIC) record, created underneath a completely different title in November 2020 by then president Trump. In June, President Biden removed some firms from the record, added others, and expanded its scope to incorporate Chinese firms promoting surveillance know-how. On December 16, eight companies had been added to the blacklist, together with dronemaker DJI and facial-recognition agency Megvii.
The strikes present how, regardless of toned-down rhetoric, Biden has largely maintained Trump’s insurance policies towards China. In some instances, the administration even constructed on Trump’s signature measures, whereas paring again insurance policies thought-about legally weak and rising the emphasis on human rights.
There have been some departures. In June, Biden revoked the so-called TikTok ban, which had twice been blocked by US judges. The ban would have required the Chinese-owned short-video app to go away the US, until parent company ByteDance sold TikTookay to an American firm. Biden then referred to as for a national security review of all foreign-owned apps inside 180 days. The deadline for that assessment handed with none main bulletins.
In September, Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou boarded a chartered Air China flight from Vancouver to Shenzhen, the place she was greeted with roses and a flag-waving crowd. Meng, the daughter of firm founder Ren Zhengfei, had been held in Canada for 3 years on the request of US authorities, who accused her of serving to Huawei evade sanctions on Iran. Meng entered into a deferred prosecution agreement with the Justice Department, permitting her to return house in change for admitting some wrongdoing—and eradicating a main sticking level in US-China relations.
But the Biden administration has tightened different restrictions on Huawei. Trump had put the Chinese firm on a list that typically prevents US firms from doing enterprise with it. US firms should apply for a particular license to promote software program or parts resembling microchips to Huawei and others on the record. In March, the Biden administration made it harder for American firms to get these licenses. Several months later, Huawei spun off the smartphone division Honor, in order that units offered outdoors of China may as soon as once more use Google’s Android working system and different software program.
“I don’t see a lot of daylight between the two administrations on national security,” says Nazak Nikakhtar, a former Commerce Department official underneath Trump.
To a massive extent, Biden is penned in as a result of he must keep away from sparking World War III whereas not wanting “soft” when the US public and Congress maintain more and more damaging views of China. And China’s extra authoritarian flip underneath President Xi Jinping—notably rolling again democracy in Hong Kong and oppressing its Muslim populations—have made it harder to reset the connection. Biden just lately mentioned the US wouldn’t ship any authorities officers to the Winter Olympics in Beijing in February.
But analysts say Biden has not supplied a distinct China coverage, besides to say the 2 international locations are opponents. “It’s very hard for the Biden administration to move in a high-profile, public, or fast way, because of the political space that’s so narrow on things related to China,” says Susan Thornton, a profession diplomat who was liable for China coverage within the late Obama and early Trump administrations.
Thornton says it’s exhausting to discern the coverage behind the bans and restrictions on Chinese firm. The Biden administration has mentioned it isn’t trying to contain China, however “if that’s the case, I really don’t understand what we’re doing,” she provides. And it’s a exhausting case to make when Trump-era tariffs stay in place, and the record of Chinese firms dealing with commerce and funding restrictions continues to develop.