British firms quizzed on Chinese tech links as US-style clampdown looms

08.24.2023 1 min read
British firms quizzed on Chinese tech links as US-style clampdown looms

Survey covering everything from robotics to cryptography sent to British firms as UK considers moving closer to Joe Biden’s curbs on Chinese investment.

LONDON — British firms are being asked about their investments in a swathe of “sensitive” Chinese sectors as the U.K. seeks to move closer to Joe Biden’s own clampdown on trade with China.

After Biden slapped fresh national security curbs on investment by U.S. firms in key Chinese tech sectors, Britain is mulling its own restrictions.

But the still-embryonic national security move — teased in a survey to British companies obtained by POLITICO — has already sparked fears the government could cast the net too widely. And there are jitters about the impact on the country’s prized microchips sector.

The survey was sent to a broad range of British companies in late July. It is, according to the document, “designed to build a collective understanding” of investment flows “in sensitive sectors.” British firms are asked if they have invested in a list of 17 areas — covering everything from advanced materials and robotics to synthetic biology.

Also included are transport, energy and civilian nuclear infrastructure, communications, cryptography and more. China is not the only country mentioned, with the government seeking to learn about investment in countries ranging from Australia and Bermuda to Canada, Hong Kong, Mexico and the U.S. itself.

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