Trump administration shelves planned investment ban on Alibaba, Tencent, Baidu -sources

By Alexandra Alper and Humeyra Pamuk
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Trump administration has abandoned plans to blacklist Chinese tech giants Alibaba, Tencent and Baidu. Four people familiar with the matter have given Beijing's top companies a brief respite.
Washington plans, however, to move forward this week to add up to nine more Chinese companies to the list, one respondent said.
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The decision to postpone plans to host the Chinese tech giants is a blow to the Chinese hawks in government who have tried to cement outgoing President Donald Trump's tough legacy against China before his presidency ends Jan. 20.
Retailer Alibaba, search engine giant Baidu and video game leader Tencent, which owns the messaging app WeChat, were shortlisted to be included in a catalog of suspected Chinese military companies that would have subjected them to a new US investment ban.
But Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, widely seen as more reluctant about China, pushed back and froze plans, people said. Corporations and Treasury, State, and Defense did not immediately respond to requests for comments.
The abrupt decision greatly eases the deep divisions within the Trump administration over China policy, even as Trump attempts to put President-elect Joe Biden into aggressive positions against the world's second largest economy.
Last month, the White House blacklisted China's top chipmaker SMIC and oil giant CNOOC. Trump also unveiled an ordinance in January banning US transactions with eight Chinese apps, including Ant Group's Alipay. Both measures were first reported by Reuters.
While Trump announced a trade deal between rival nations, relations between Washington and Beijing deteriorated last year over China's handling of the deadly coronavirus and its crackdown on freedoms in Hong Kong.
(Reporting by Alexandra Alper and Humeyra Pamuk; writing by Alexandra Alper; additional reporting by Andrea Shalal and Mike Stone; editing by Leslie Adler and Howard Goller)

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