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Pentagon asked for list of Chinese firms with military ties over 'economic espionage'

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
US Secretary of Defense Mark Esper (L) and Chairman of Joint Chiefs of Staff General Joseph Dunford hold a media briefing at the Pentagon August 28, 2019 in Arlington, Virginia. (Photo by AFP)

A bipartisan group of US lawmakers calls on the Pentagon to compile and release an updated list of companies with ties to the Chinese military, operating in the United States. 

The group wrote a letter to Pentagon chief Mark Esper on Thursday, asking for the release of an updated list “as soon as possible” to “combat China’s economic espionage in the United States.”

Companies owned by Beijing “acquire American firms to transfer proprietary information,” among other tactics, read the letter.

A Chinese embassy spokesperson called the accusations an example of a “cold-war mentality,” saying Beijing’s strategy aims to integrate the defense and economic sectors.

A file photo of the installation of a containment dome for a Hualong reactor at a nuclear plant in China’s Guangxi province.

Back in August, the US blacklisted a major Chinese nuclear power company, a partner for the UK’s power generation program, over accusations of stealing US technology for military use.

As a result, China General Nuclear Power Group (CGN) and three of its subsidiaries were placed on the commerce department’s “entity list.”

The US has also put Chinese telecoms company Huawei on the same list since May, even as it has failed to provide any evidence to support espionage allegations.

The push by US lawmakers comes after reports that Beijing and Washington are trying to calm tensions before a new round of talks on tariffs next month.

On Thursday, President Donald Trump postponed the imposition of new tariffs on Chinese products “as a gesture of good will.”

His administration has so far imposed duties on hundreds of billions of dollars worth of Chinese goods.

China has met every single round of US tariffs with retaliatory measures of its own, but its countermeasures have been milder.

To counter US actions of trade protectionism, Beijing in recent years has been trying to get more international entities to use its currency, the yuan, outside China.

China’s central bank announced last month that it was close to launching a digital version of its currency in a move to “protect” its foreign exchange sovereignty.

The proposed digital currency, according to the CEO of American cryptocurrency financial services firm Circle, could trigger global use of the yuan.

“This becomes a mechanism by which (the yuan) can be used in everyday transactions all around the world, said Jeremy Allaire.

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