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Rubio steps up campaign against China

Rubio speaks to reporters
Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Senator Marco Rubio will introduce a bill Wednesday that would bar Chinese-owned companies from qualifying for small business assistance.

The big picture: It's another move in Rubio's campaign to curb Chinese influence. He's recently sounded the alarm on issues ranging from intellectual property theft to human rights violations.

Timing: The bill comes as the Trump administration is reportedly gearing up to limit Chinese companies' ability to invest in U.S. tech companies.

The details:

  • The bill includes businesses that are headquartered in China, are owned by Chinese entities, or have at least 25% of their voting stock owned by Chinese investors.
  • Under current law, any small business that legally operates in the U.S. could qualify for grants or loans under small business assistance.
  • Why it matters: The bill would ensure that money intended to stimulate the growth of American businesses does not go to Chinese-owned firms.

One more thing: Rubio is also adding language to multiple appropriations bills that would ban federal agencies from buying products from ZTE — a Chinese telecom giant that has repeatedly violated U.S. sanctions and has been labeled a national security threat by the Pentagon.

The backdrop: Rubio has been a vocal opponent of President Trump's deal to save ZTE from a Commerce Department ban, which stopped American companies from selling parts to it. He supported the Senate's vote to reinstate the ban.