Politics

White House floated memo to study Chinese investment limits

Key Points
  • The White House circulates a memo outlining a process to study whether to limit U.S. investment in Chinese securities.
  • Administration officials later call the move "fake news" after news outlets begin reporting on it.
US President Donald Trump speaks alongside Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin (R) during a meeting in the Roosevelt Room at the White House in Washington, DC, February 22, 2017.
Saul Loeb | AFP | Getty Images

Early last week, the White House circulated a policy memo outlining a process that would evaluate whether the Trump administration should limit U.S. capital flows into Chinese securities, a move that administration officials later called "fake news" after media outlets began reporting on it.

The memo, viewed by CNBC on Tuesday, does not make a policy recommendation but outlines the reasons why potential investment limits should be studied.

The next step, according to the memo, is arranging a meeting of the so-called Policy Coordinating Committee, which includes members of relevant government agencies and White House divisions. The memo suggests that the group hold a follow-up meeting the week of Sept. 30 to Oct. 4.

CNBC reported Friday that the White House had begun a deliberative process to evaluate what, if any, restrictions on Chinese investment it might pursue.

In a tweet Saturday, the Treasury Department said that the Trump administration "is not contemplating blocking Chinese companies from listing shares on U.S. stock exchanges at this time." In interviews on CNBC and Fox News, White House trade advisor Peter Navarro called the reporting on the idea "fake news."

A senior White House official tells CNBC the policy process can last anywhere from a few weeks to more than a year, depending on whether President Donald Trump intervenes to expedite it.

Hudson Institute trade expert Michael Pillsbury, an outside advisor to the White House on trade, has voiced support for restricting U.S. capital flowing into Chinese securities. Sen. Marco Rubio, a China hawk, has spearheaded separate pieces of legislation that would slap stricter disclosure rules on Chinese companies listed in the U.S. and ban government retirement plans from investing in Chinese stocks.

— CNBC's Eamon Javers contributed reporting.

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