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Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Monday that a forthcoming statement from the government related to reports of investment restrictions will apply to China and other countries that threaten U.S. intellectual property rights on technology.
"On behalf of @realDonaldTrump, the stories on investment restrictions in Bloomberg & WSJ are false, fake news. The leaker either doesn’t exist or know the subject very well. Statement will be out not specific to China, but to all countries that are trying to steal our technology," Mnuchin said in a tweet.
The Trump administration is preparing to announce limits on Chinese investment in the U.S. and block additional technology exports to the Asian country, The Wall Street Journal reported Sunday, citing sources.
Early Monday Bloomberg also reported, citing sources, that the White House would use "one of the most expansive legal tools" to declare Chinese investment in certain technology-related U.S. companies a threat to economic and national security.
The report, citing sources, added that Mnuchin was working on the plan for investment restrictions since as early as December, despite supporting a less aggressive approach in negotiations with Beijing. President Donald Trump and other Cabinet members have since persuaded Mnuchin "to use blunt tools" in countering risk from Chinese investments, Bloomberg said, citing sources.
The Treasury is expected to make an announcement on foreign investment in the U.S. by the end of the month.
U.S. stocks pared their losses slightly after Mnuchin's mid-morning tweet, perhaps on hopes the forthcoming action would be lighter on China than feared. But the Dow Jones Industrial Average went on to hit session lows. The index trimmed losses but still closed more than 300 points lower after White House trade advisor Peter Navarro said on CNBC Monday afternoon that the administration is not currently targeting any specific countries and the market was overreacting.
In an apparent contradiction to Navarro's comments, the White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said during an afternoon briefing that a statement would soon go out that targets all countries that try to steal U.S. technology.
Chinese acquisitions and investments in the U.S. fell 92 percent to just $1.8 billion in the first five months of this year, consulting and research firm Rhodium Group said last week. The decline follows a sharp drop in the second half of last year as pressure from both Beijing and the Trump administration curbed a recent surge in cross-border investment.