The final days of the Trump presidency are being marked by both a challenge to the US from within by the far right and the administration’s efforts to combat perceived external threats from China.
Our Washington bureau reports the US commerce department has just finalised new rules to make it easier for the federal government to block Americans from importing technology from China and other US adversaries that it decides could threaten national security.
The rules cover software, such as that used in critical infrastructure, and hardware that includes drones and surveillance cameras. It gives new powers to the commerce secretary to issue licences or block imports.
“President Trump has been committed to protecting the national security of all Americans, and the implementation of this rule is a pivotal moment in this administration’s efforts to put America First and hold bad actors accountable,” said Wilbur Ross, US commerce secretary.
The Pentagon is also preparing to add more Chinese companies to a list of firms with suspected ties to the Chinese military, but as we reported overnight, the US Treasury has blocked an attempt by the Pentagon and State department to put some of China’s largest tech companies on a blacklist that would have banned US investors from holding their stock. Both had pushed hard to add Alibaba, Tencent, and Baidu to a list of companies thought to be linked to the Chinese military.
In an FT opinion piece, Jesse Fried, Dane professor at Harvard Law School, says US interests are being sacrificed for anti-China grandstanding, citing the delisting of China’s three leading telcos.
“The idea that barring purchases of these telecom companies’ stock will affect China’s military is laughable, but their US investors are not laughing,” he says. “The purchase bans and delistings have temporarily depressed prices as American stockholders run for the exits. Hong Kong and other foreign traders are buying up these shares on the cheap. American investors lose; China’s investors win — and its military continues to grow unimpeded.”
The Internet of (Five) Things
3. Tesla US recall as China boomsTesla has been asked to recall 158,000 Model S and Model X vehicles over concerns about possible safety risks from their touchscreen displays not working. The Model 3 is faring better, particularly in China. Lex says Elon Musk’s dream there has become a reality ahead of schedule, with Tesla now claiming a fifth of all electric car sales in China.
4. Tech groups work on vaccine passportHealth and technology groups are working to create a Covid-19 digital vaccination passport in the expectation that governments, airlines and other businesses will require proof people have been immunised. The Vaccination Credential Initiative, a coalition of organisations including Microsoft, Oracle and the US healthcare non-profit Mayo Clinic, aims to establish standards to verify whether a person has had their shot.
5. Grab grabs $300m, Affirm doublesGrab, the south-east Asian ride-hailing and food delivery app, has raised $300m from investors for its financial services arm, valuing the three-year-old unit at $3bn. Affirm, the consumer lender led by PayPal co-founder Max Levchin, almost doubled in value after its US public debut on Wednesday.
Forwarded from Sifted — the European start-up week
There was also fierce debate on the continent this week about the move by the European Commission to start investing directly in start-ups through its , with some VCs and founders saying that the money. Sifted also looked at the top .