The logo of Chinese company Huawei. Photo: Daniel Leal-Olivas/AFP/Getty Images

The Defense Department is making public for the first time a list of Chinese companies that are operating in the U.S. and are tied to the Chinese military. The list, obtained by Axios, includes Huawei, Hangzhou Hikvision, China Railway Construction Corporation, and China Telecommunications Corporation.

Why it matters: President Trump has the authority to invoke emergency economic powers, including sanctions, against the 20 companies on the list.

Background: The list was required by the 1999 National Defense Authorization Act, but was either not assembled or not made public, until now.

  • It was included as part of a provision regarding the president’s ability to apply the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA) to Chinese military-linked companies operating within the United States.
  • In 1999, Congress wanted to ensure that China’s entry to the World Trade Organization wouldn’t help the country access defense technologies that would improve China’s military capabilities against the U.S. or its allies.
The list of Chinese companies that the Department of Defense says are linked to the People's Liberation Army.

Details: IEEPA is a tremendously powerful tool, often wielded through Department of Treasury sanctions, for cutting off foreign companies and individuals from the U.S. finance system. It is not yet known if the new list is a prelude to Treasury actions.

  • “The president can use IEEPA authorities against entities on the list,” says Larry Wortzel, a commissioner of Congress’s U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission, who spoke to Axios in his capacity as an individual commissioner.
  • “All of them are the ‘usual suspects,’” said a former senior intelligence official who viewed a copy of the list. “Some have ties to [Ministry of State Security] but all also operate as ‘autonomous collectors.’"

White House national security advisor Robert O'Brien was slated to mention the list in his speech today on the challenge that the Chinese Communist Party's global influence poses to the United States.

What they're saying: "Not only is Hikvision not a “Chinese military company,” Hikvision has never participated in any R&D work for military applications," a Hikvision spokesperson told Axios. "Hikvision has always tried to fully and transparently cooperate with the U.S. government to answer questions and correct misunderstandings about the company. Hikvision will continue to try to work with the US government to resolve all of these matters."

The Department of Defense did not provide comment.

What to watch: “It’s a bark, not a bite, if sanctions (to include prohibition from doing business in the U.S.) don’t follow," said the former official.

Editor's note: This story has been updated to include comment from Hikvision.

Go deeper

FBI director says China aims to become "world's only superpower"

FBI Director Christopher Wray speaks to the media during a news conference at FBI Headquarters on June 14, 2018 in Washington, DC. Photo: Mark Wilson/Getty Images

FBI Director Christopher Wray gave a speech today at the Hudson Institute in Washington, D.C. in which he laid out "more detail on the Chinese threat than the FBI has ever presented in an open forum."

Why it matters: China's increasingly aggressive behavior under General Secretary Xi Jinping is ringing alarm bells in the U.S.

U.S.-China trade tensions are escalating again

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

As the coronavirus pandemic appears to be subsiding in China, it's becoming clear that its targets for the phase one trade deal with the U.S. are unrealistic and there is so far no sign of a plan for renegotiation.

What's happening: White House National Economic Council director Larry Kudlow said Thursday the trade deal was "intact, and China has every intent of implementing it."

Updated 24 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Mary Trump book: How she leaked Trump financials to NYT

Simon & Schuster

In her new memoir, President Trump's niece reveals how she leaked hordes of confidential Trump family financial documents to the New York Times in an effort to expose her uncle, whom she portrays as a dangerous sociopath.

Why it matters: Trump was furious when he found out recently that Mary Trump, a trained psychologist, would be publishing a tell-all memoir. And Trump's younger brother, Robert, tried and failed to block the publication of "Too Much and Never Enough: How My Family Created the World's Most Dangerous Man."