President Joe Biden will sign an executive order Thursday designed to sharpen the federal government’s powers to block Chinese investment in technology in the United States and limit its access to private data on citizens, administration officials say, in a move that is bound to heighten tensions with Beijing.
The new order is designed to focus the actions of the secretive Committee on Foreign Investments in the United States, created by Congress nearly a half-century ago. For years the committee’s powers were limited largely to blocking the foreign acquisition of U.S. firms that might have a direct effect on national security — a military contractor, for example.
But the new order directs the committee, known by the acronym CFIUS, to concentrate on specific types of transactions that would give a foreign power access to key technologies that Biden has identified as critical to American economic growth.
The committee will review cases that would have an impact on “microelectronics, artificial intelligence, biotechnology and biomanufacturing, quantum computing, advanced clean energy, and climate adaptation technologies,” according to a White House summary. While China is not specifically mentioned in the order, all of those are key areas in the “Made in China 2025” drive started seven years ago by President Xi Jinping, and they are also technologies in which the United States is now placing more federal resources.