- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 25, 2020

The Pentagon on Thursday revealed the names of 20 Chinese companies linked to the People’s Liberation Army operating directly or indirectly in the United States, in a bid to halt Beijing from obtaining military-related goods.

The list includes Huawei Technologies, the global telecommunications company the Trump administration has identified as a potential electronic spying threat. Other firms include the major missile and aircraft manufacturer Aviation Industry Corp. of China, and Hikvision, a company that make surveillance cameras that have been used in the mass repression of Uighurs in western China.

Hikvision in a statement denied it was a Chinese military company and said the U.S. list was “baseless.”

Most of the companies on the list have been subject to U.S. economic sanctions and export controls in the past. They include China North Industries Group Corp., linked in the 1990s to an arms smuggling ring for street gangs in Los Angeles, and China’s main missile manufacturers — China Aerospace Science and Technology Corp. and China Aerospace Science and Industry Corp.

U.S. officials said the list is meant to better educate American and foreign companies to the risks of doing business with Chinese firms, at a time of growing economic and military tensions between Washington and Beijing.

Pentagon spokesman Jonathan Hoffman said list included companies that are controlled by or affiliated with China’s government, the PLA or the defense industry.

“As the People’s Republic of China attempts to blur the lines between civil and military sectors, ‘knowing your supplier’ is critical,” Mr. Hoffman said in a statement.

“We envision this list will be a useful tool for the U.S. government, companies, investors, academic institutions, and like-minded partners to conduct due diligence with regard to partnerships with these entities, particularly as the list grows.”

A senior U.S. official said the companies on the list are part of China’s so-called military-civilian “fusion program” to boost the military’s capabilities with civilian technology.

Rick Fisher, senior fellow, International Assessment and Strategy Center, said the list helps identify Chinese firms engaged in working “at multiple levels” with the PLA, but should be expanded into an updated annual handbook.

“Most of the companies on the Pentagon’s list have subsidiaries that are making the actual weapons or military subsystems,” he added. “They often are working with major and minor universities to develop concepts, new essential technology or actual hardware.”

Mr. Fisher said the Pentagon should also identify the leaders of all the companies who could then be subjected to sanctions by the United States and allied states.

“Ideally this should all be handled by a revived Coordinating Committee for Multilateral Export Controls that helped deny military technology to the Soviet Union, accelerating the end of the Cold War,” he said.

The White House estimated in a report in 2018 that China until recently was obtaining between $250 billion and $600 billion in American intellectual property.

The list was required under 1999 legislation after the Clinton administration granted Beijing permanent normal trading status, in a bid to promote a market-based economy in China.

Despite the legal requirement, the Clinton administration initially opposed publishing the list, saying it would compromise intelligence sources, according to Larry Wortzel, a former military officer.

“Chinese military-related companies operating within the United States may have an easier time bypassing U.S. export control laws, giving the PLA access to American technology that should be withheld on national security grounds,” Mr. Wortzel said.

“Such technology ranges from electronic communications to precision manufacturing machinery and lasers.”

The Pentagon did not publish the list on its website, an indication of the sensitivity of the matter for some Pentagon officials that apparently are seeking to avoid offending Beijing.

Despite the Trump administration’s tougher policies toward China, the Pentagon has continued to pursue military exchanges with China in a bid to retain relations with the PLA. Sen. Marco Rubio, Florida Republican, said the publication of the list fell far short of what was needed.

The list “is a start, but woefully inadequate to warn the American people about the state-owned and -directed companies that support the Chinese government and Communist Party’s activities threatening U.S. economic and national security,” he said in a statement.

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