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US lower house committee wants investment in some Chinese biometrics firms cut off

US lower house committee wants investment in some Chinese biometrics firms cut off
 

Only a few years ago, mentioning China brought smiles to American technology investors and manufacturers. U.S. politicians couldn’t rewrite laws fast enough to encourage the eastly flow of money, knowhow and intellectual property.

The internal politics of China was the business of the Chinese. So long as finished goods came back across the Pacific at prices that were hard to believe and impossible to beat, most people were happy.

Now, U.S.-funded biometrics is one of the product sectors politicians want to rip out of China by the roots.

A select committee focused on the Chinese Communist Party wants to know who in the United States is investing in China. That is going to be a long list, but members are starting with a focused approach: the world’s largest asset manager BlackRock and U.S. capital market company MSCI.

Larry Fink, CEO of BlackRock, is being lectured by the committee on how the government of China combines military, police and business technology development, like facial recognition systems that watch whole regions of the nation.

Biometric surveillance systems are being used, according to numerous reports, to oppress and imprison religious and political minorities. Then there is Beijing’s unapologetic expansionism.

The committee’s letter names six lists created by the federal government to spotlight the Chinese companies that the government leaders want to prevent from selling in or to the U.S. The best known is the Uyghur Forced Labor and Prevention Act Entity List, named after one of the ethnic groups Beijing targets with vigor.

One of the companies listed in the congressional letter is the large biometric surveillance company Zhejiang Dahua. According to committee members, BlackRock is in some significant way involved in investments including Dahua.

Overt political pressure in the United States reportedly has persuaded some investors to divest from Dahua and surveillance camera and algorithm maker Hikvision, according to the Financial Mail On Sunday. That story was distributed by Microsoft, which directly and indirectly competes with numerous Chinese firms feeling Washington’s ire.

United Kingdom financial giant HSBC, investment firm Fidelity and asset manager Legal & General also have invested in Dahua, according to the Financial Mail story.

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