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Trump will back laws restricting Chinese investment in US tech, says report

Congress is updating existing laws to limit foreign investment.

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President Donald Trump reportedly won't use executive action to limit Chinese investment in US tech companies.

Mandel Ngan / AFP/Getty Images

The Trump administration will reportedly rely on updated laws to restrict Chinese investment in US tech firms rather than taking executive action.

Using existing laws, which are being updated by Congress,"is the best approach to protect U.S. technology," a senior administration official said Wednesday, according to The Wall Street Journal.

This follows a Sunday report that the Treasury Department will limit China's investment in US companies with "industrially significant technology," an official said.

On Monday, however, the Trump administration said the restriction won't be specific to just China. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in a tweet that investment restrictions will apply to China and other countries that threaten US intellectual property rights on technology.

"Statement will be out not specific to China, but to all countries that are trying to steal our technology," Mnuchin tweeted.

The official announcement will reportedly be made by the end of the month. It's the latest move in escalating trade tensions between the US and China.

On Friday, the Office of the US Trade Representative said that $50 billion worth of Chinese goods with "industrially significant technologies" will be subject to 25 percent tariffs. However, the US government noted that it specifically excluded "goods commonly purchased by American consumers such as cellular telephones or televisions."

President Donald Trump also reportedly assured Apple CEO Tim Cook that the government wouldn't levy tariffs on iPhones either.

Much of the tension has been centered around ZTE. Last week, the US Senate voted to reinstate penalties against the Chinese telecom giant, rejecting Trump's efforts to allow it to resume business with US suppliers.

The Commerce Department issued a denial order that prevents American businesses from selling hardware or services to ZTE in April. The seven-year ban, which forced the company to shut down its "major operating activities," followed the government's determination that ZTE violated terms of a 2017 settlement by failing to fire employees involved with illegally shipping US equipment to Iran and North Korea.

The ban crippled the company and left it unlikely to survive -- until Trump tweeted that he wanted the Commerce Department to work on getting the ban lifted.

First published June 25, 6:59 a.m. PT.
Update, 6:37 a.m. PT: Adds that Trump won't employ executive action.
Update, 9:31 a.m. PT: Adds tweet from Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.

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