Beijing has sped up the development of a blacklist that could be used to punish American technology firms, but officials say leaders are hesitating to pull the trigger, with some arguing a decision on the list should wait till after the U.S. election.
The Wall Street Journal on Monday has reported, the debate highlights Beijing's continued grappling with how to respond to the Trump administration without driving the relationship closer to collapse.
So far, the Chinese leadership has tried to respond in kind to Washington's actions but has tried to avoid measures that go beyond those of the U.S. A well-timed strike can sometimes work in Beijing's and Chinese companies' favor.
After President Trump's campaign for a U.S. company to take over video-sharing app TikTok, Chinese regulators rolled out new export-control rules that have helped TikTok parent ByteDance set terms that could help it avoid losing control of the platform's U.S. operations or crucial technology.
China first announced its plan to create a blacklist of U.S. entities in May 2019, soon after the U.S. restricted telecom giant Huawei Technologies's access to U.S. components and technology.
But Beijing refrained from specifying any companies or individuals for the list as both countries' trade negotiators were engaged in the talks that eventually led to the signing of a "phase one" trade agreement in January.
In a separate statement on Saturday, China's Ministry of Commerce condemned the Trump administration’s actions against WeChat and TikTok, saying that such “bullying” had damaged the United States’ image as a destination for foreign investment.
In recent weeks, according to people with knowledge of the matter, an interagency group led by Vice Premier Hu Chunhua, who oversees foreign investment and trade, has stepped up the finalization of the "unreliable-entity" list -- China's answer to the U.S.'s list of Chinese entities it is targeting for sanctions.