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MassPoint’s Hdeel Abdelhady has long characterized the U.S.-China economic confrontation as not just a “trade war,” but more consequentially as a “tech war” in which U.S. law plays an essential part, from sanctions to export controls to supply chain exclusions. MassPoint’s publications on the tech war and broader economic confrontation provide timely analysis and foresight on the U.S.-China race to dominate future technologies like artificial intelligence, 5G, and robotics, as well as the critical minerals inputs essential to modern life.

Learn about MassPoint’s related legal and strategy services here and contact Hdeel Abdelhady for more information.

Tech Wars: Emerging Technologies Law & Policy Insights (U.S.-China focus)
Academic Espionage, Academic Research, CFIUS, Tech War, Technology Export Control, Technology Transfer Regulation, United States China Law and Policy, University Export Controls

Strategic Competition Act Would Subject Foreign Funding of U.S. Universities to CFIUS Review

Several pieces of legislation are pending in Congress to more comprehensively shore up the U.S. position in the U.S.-China technology race. The Strategic Competition Act of 2021 illustrates clearly the official U.S. view of academia’s role in the U.S.-China technology race, and the links between U.S. policies and legal measures to regulate foreign access to U.S. science and technology within and across the private, public, and academic sectors.
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United States China Law and Policy

New U.S. Law Targets China’s Financial Diplomacy, Belt & Road Initiative, World Bank Borrowing

With the passage of the NDAA for FY 2021, we are reminded that the United States views as an issue of “great power competition” China’s financial and infrastructure diplomacy, particularly China’s lending to developing nations and its Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). Congress provided a reminder of the United States’ concerns as to China’s cross-border lending and the BRI. The massive annual defense spending legislation includes two provisions directly on point.
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Academic Espionage, Business Ethics & Conduct, CFIUS, Doing Business in the United States, Foreign Investment in the United States, Global Magnitsky Sanctions, Iran Sanctions, Russia Sanctions, Sanctions, Tech War, Technology Export Control, United States China Law and Policy

Post-2020 Election Outlook: 5 Issues to Keep Watching

After the 2016 Presidential election, MassPoint PLLC published five issues to watch in 2017 (and beyond). We revisit our predictions on the five issues, which we expect to remain watch-worthy under the Biden Administration.
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Doing Business in the United States, International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA), United States China Law and Policy

Executive Order Prohibits Investment in Chinese “Military Companies:” Key Points, Context

We expect that with respect to U.S.-China trade and emerging technologies disputes and competition, the Biden Administration will take a more comprehensive, coordinated, and multilateral approach, relying more on joint action and shared objectives with Congress (where there is bipartisan consensus on key China matters) and U.S. allies, particularly in Europe and Asia. That said, the proximity of the January 11, 2021 operational date will likely require the incoming administration to ensure that any abandonment of or departures from the Executive order are framed in a compelling strategic and policy terms, so as to, at minimum, avoid exposure to claims from some quarters that the next president is “soft on China.”
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Doing Business in Emerging Markets, Global Magnitsky Sanctions, Sanctions, United States China Law and Policy

Corruption, Human Rights, and Geostrategy: U.S. Sanctions Belt & Road Project Company

The United States has targted a Belt& Road project with Global Magnitsky Sanctions. The move is significant, and might signal a ratcheting up of U.S. opposition to the BRI, which has largely comprised rhetoric, diplomatic lobbying, and relatively tepid competition, such as by the establishment of the U.S. International Development Finance Corporation (DFC).
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Doing Business in Emerging Markets, Global Magnitsky Sanctions, Sanctions, United States China Law and Policy

U.S. Targets Chinese Belt & Road Project With Global Magnitsky Sanctions

The Treasury Department’s announcement of the sanctions speaks to the foreign policy and geostrategic significance of the UDG sanctions action. The release speaks of China’s “malign” investment in Cambodia, its use of the UDG projects in Cambodia to “advance ambitions to project power globally,” “disproportionality benefit” itself through BRI projects, and concerns that the Dara Kakor project “could be converted to “host military assets.” The Treasury Department’s language echoes U.S. concerns about the BRI and other Chinese international project financing activities, including that China engages in “debt trap” financing.
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CFIUS, Foreign Investment in the United States, International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA), National Security Law, Tech War, Technology and Human Rights, Technology Export Control, United States China Law and Policy

TikTok: China’s Export Controls Set in Motion Unprecedented Legal Scenario

On August 14, President Trump ordered ByteDance to divest its assets and interests in TikTok. What happens if ByteDance does not comply? The question may seem academic, given historical compliance with divestment orders and ByteDance’s talks with U.S. companies about TikTok’s sale. But a recent legal move by China—its expansion of a list of technologies that require government approval for export, including apparently in a sale of TikTok—renders real the issue of non-compliance with the August 14 divestment order, and potentially raises unprecedented issues.
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Academic Espionage, Academic Research, China Initiative, Emerging Technologies Regulation, Foreign Influence in Academia, Foreign Investment in the United States, International Trade Law, National Security Law, Tech War, Technology Export Control, Technology Transfer Regulation, United States China Law and Policy

U.S. Restrictions on International Tech Transfer in Academia, Business, Trade

U.S. Controls Over Foreign Access to and Influence on Technology and Research in 2020: A  Quick Guide U.S. companies, academic and research institutions, and individuals are facing greater scrutiny…

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Emerging Technologies Regulation, International Trade Law, National Security Law, Tech War, Technology Export Control, Technology Transfer Regulation

Federal Artificial Intelligence Panel Recommends Semiconductor Hardware Export Controls

Perceiving China’s technological ascendance as a threat, the United States has imposed defensive legal measures, including export controls, to curb foreign access to U.S. technology by illicit and lawful means. The approach has bipartisan backing across the U.S. government.
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Doing Business in Emerging Markets, International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA), International Trade Law, Iran Sanctions, National Security Law, Sanctions, United States China Law and Policy

OFAC Cosco Shipping Tanker (Dalian) Co., Ltd. General License K: Analysis

General License K authorizes, until 12:01 eastern time on December 20, 2019 (essentially, through the end of December 19 eastern time), the above-listed prohibited transactions where they directly or indirectly involve Cosco or entities owned 50% by Cosco and are “ordinarily incident and necessary to the maintenance or wind down of transactions.”
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Doing Business in the United States, International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA), International Trade Law, Tech War, Technology Export Control, Technology Transfer Regulation, United States China Law and Policy

New Tariffs: Potential Relevance for Huawei, Export Controls

The September 1 tariffs effective date is close in time to the expiration of the Temporary General License partially easing restrictions on Huawei. The state of U.S.-China trade talks around the expiry of the 90-day license may influence further actions. U.S. and foreign companies subject to export controls should be mindful of the potential links.
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Academic Espionage, Doing Business in the United States, International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA), International Trade Law, National Security Law, Tech War, Technology Export Control, Technology Transfer Regulation, United States China Law and Policy, University Export Controls

Huawei: Key U.S. Legal Issues

After talks with China’s president at the G20 summit in Japan, President Trump announced on June 29 that “he would allow” U.S. companies to continue to sell “product” to Huawei. The statement, construed by some as a “concession” or “reversal” of U.S. policy toward Huawei, has generated confusion and disagreement from China “hawks” in Congress and elsewhere. This rundown of Huawei legal and policy issues discusses the presidential statement, its lack of legal effect to date, its context, and why technology industry stakeholders need to understand the complete U.S.-China technology picture to navigate developments and mitigate risk.
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Doing Business in the United States, Foreign Investment in the United States, National Security Law, Tech War, Technology Transfer Regulation, United States China Law and Policy

Digital Dating as a Matter of National Security: Grindr-CFIUS

Is a dating app a national security asset? Yes, in some cases. Foreign investment in U.S. businesses that collect and maintain U.S. citizens’ sensitive personal data is subject to national security reviews by CFIUS. From social networking to financial services to healthcare to consumer retail, companies across sectors collect, maintain, and have access to the sensitive personal data of U.S. citizens. The implications of the personal data-national security nexus are potentially wide-ranging for foreign investment in U.S. businesses.
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Critical Minerals, Doing Business in the United States, International Trade Law, Tech War, Technology Export Control, United States China Law and Policy

China’s Rare Earths Export Controls: A Page From U.S. Law?

China might take a targeted approach to any restrictions on rare earth elements that echoes, or effectively duplicates, the approach of the United States, which is to control exports based on "end use" and "end user" where one or both conflict with or potentially undermine U.S. national security interests (which include technological leadership and economic security).
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China Initiative, Doing Business in the United States, Foreign Influence in Academia, Foreign Investment in the United States, National Security Law, Tech War, Technology Export Control, Technology Transfer Regulation, United States China Law and Policy

U.S.-China Tech War: Whole of Government Legal Strategy

The U.S. government has adopted and is implementing a “whole-of-government” strategy to counter China. The whole-of-government approach entails a range of legal and policy measures to curb China’s access to U.S. technology, by lawful and unlawful means. These measures include, but are not limited to, stricter curbs on foreign investment in U.S. technology; restrictions on exports of “emerging technologies” like artificial intelligence; exclusions of Chinese firms from U.S. government and private supply chains through company bans; prosecutions of intellectual property theft; measures to counter “academic espionage” in American academic and research institutions; and, indirectly, and, indirectly, sanctions enforcement.
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Academic Espionage, China Initiative, Doing Business in the United States, Foreign Agents Registration Act, Foreign Investment in the United States, National Security Law, Tech War, Technology Export Control, Technology Transfer Regulation, United States China Law and Policy

Huawei Ownership and the Foreign Agents Registration Act

The United States has adopted a whole-of-government approach to counter China’s “economic aggression” or “economic espionage,” umbrella terms that encompass a range of conduct including IP theft, forced technology transfer, academic espionage, and influence operations in the United States. The whole-of-government approach illustrates that the most strategically significant and complex confrontation between the United States and China is not the “trade war.” Rather, the race to dominate future technologies like artificial intelligence and 5G underpins the most complex legal and policy issues between the two nations. The U.S.-China tech war, and the United States’ whole-of-government strategy, has put Chinese technology companies under the hot light of U.S. legal and political scrutiny. Companies like Huawei and ZTE, relative unknowns in the United States until recently, have found themselves on the wrong side of U.S. law enforcement.
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Academic Espionage, Academic Research, Doing Business in the United States, Foreign Influence in Academia, Foreign Investment in the United States, National Security Law, Tech War, Technology Export Control, Technology Transfer Regulation, United States China Law and Policy, University Export Controls

Proposed Legislation Would Restrict Foreign Participation in Academic Research

The “Protect Our Universities Act of 2019” is a a bill “to create a task force within the Department of Education to address the threat of foreign government influence and threats to academic research integrity on college campuses, and for other purposes." Among other things, the Bill would restrict foreign student participation in federally funded academic research deemed "sensitive" to national security.
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Academic Espionage, Academic Research, China Initiative, Doing Business in the United States, Foreign Agents Registration Act, Foreign Influence in Academia, National Security Law, Sanctions, Tech War, Technology Export Control, Technology Transfer Regulation, United States China Law and Policy, University Export Controls

U.S.-China Trade, Technology and American Academia: The DOJ China Initiative

On national security grounds, the United States is developing and implementing a whole-of-government approach to maintain the country’s technological edge through legal and policy measures to restrict Chinese access to U.S. technology and intellectual property, including by: (1) limiting or prohibiting certain foreign investment and commercial transactions; (2) adopting export controls on emerging technologies; (3) instituting supply chain exclusions; (4) curbing participation in academic and other research; and (5) combating cyber intrusions and industrial and academic espionage.[2] Additionally, concerns about Chinese government influence have spurred proposals to regulate the activities of entities viewed as Chinese government influence operators.
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Academic Espionage, Academic Research, China Initiative, Doing Business in Emerging Markets, Doing Business in the United States, Foreign Influence in Academia, Foreign Investment in the United States, International Trade Law, National Security Law, Sanctions, Tech War, Technology and Human Rights, Technology Export Control, Technology Transfer Regulation, United States China Law and Policy

U.S.-China Trade, Technology & Global Policy Issues: INFOGRAPHIC

This graphic depicts key issues between the United States and China, as identified by the United States as of January 26, 2019. This is not an exhaustive depiction, but captures key categories and sub-categories of Chinese state and private practices, state policies, and state structural characteristics that are the subject of U.S. government complaints (as raised from within and outside of the Trump Administration).
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Anti-Corruption, Business Ethics & Conduct, Doing Business in Emerging Markets, Doing Business in the United States, National Security Law, United States China Law and Policy

Trump’s Africa Strategy Targets Corruption. Extractives, and Chinese Presence

The Trump Administration's newly released Africa Strategy is likely to bring greater anti-corruption enforcement, particularly against Chinese state-owned and private firms, as well as against African officials, and African and third country private parties. Extractives industries, particularly involving nonfuel minerals like cobalt, are likely to be of particular interest.
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Academic Espionage, Academic Research, China Initiative, Doing Business in the United States, Foreign Agents Registration Act, Foreign Influence in Academia, National Security Law, Tech War, Technology Export Control, Technology Transfer Regulation, United States China Law and Policy, University Export Controls

US-China Risks to American Academia Are So Real They Are Insurable

If there remain doubts that the U.S.-China trade war and technology war present real risks for U.S. colleges and universities, a recent report that a U.S. university has secured insurance against the risk of material reductions in Chinese student enrollment should put those doubts to bed. The risks are so real that they are insurable.
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Academic Espionage, Academic Research, China Initiative, Doing Business in the United States, Foreign Agents Registration Act, Foreign Influence in Academia, MassPoint Legal and Strategy Advisory PLLC, National Security Law, Tech War, Technology Export Control, Technology Transfer Regulation, United States China Law and Policy

DOJ Initiative Takes on “Chinese Economic Espionage:” Legal Issues for Academia

The Department of Justice (DOJ) recently launched an initiative to “Combat Chinese Economic Espionage.” Announced on November 1, 2018 by former Attorney General Jeff Sessions, the China Initiative acts on the Trump Administration’s previous findings “concerning China’s practices” and “reflects the Department’s strategic priority of countering Chinese national security threats and reinforces the President’s overall national security strategy.” The China Initiative presents emerging issues for academia, the technology industry, and the private sector broadly.
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Academic Espionage, Academic Research, Foreign Influence in Academia, International Trade Law, National Security Law, Tech War, Technology Export Control, Technology Transfer Regulation, United States China Law and Policy

Tech Wars: Fundamental Research, National Security, and Technology Competition

Fundamental research is excluded from export controls jurisdiction. But given growing concerns about alleged Chinese "academic espionage" at American universities and transfers to China of U.S. scientific and technological information and know-how, including through Chinese students, researchers, and others in fundamental and research pipelines, this excerpt is re-posted separately as foreign (particularly Chinese) access to and participation in U.S. fundamental research may be curbed by non-export controls means.
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Doing Business in the United States, Foreign Investment in the United States, International Trade Law, Tech War, Technology Export Control, Technology Transfer Regulation, United States China Law and Policy, University Export Controls

Brain Drain: Emerging Technologies Export Controls Could Spur Tech Inversions

The Department of Commerce, Bureau of Industry and Security, has begun the process of identifying "emerging technologies" that are essential to national security and, consequently, require export control. New export controls on emerging technologies could be burdensome, depending on the content of regulations and the manner of their enforcement. If the new regulatory regime is burdensome to the point that it prohibits (legally or practically) some emerging technology transfers to foreign parties, companies and others involved in emerging technologies-- particularly their development--may seek arrangements, without evading or otherwise violating ECRA or applicable regulations, to ease collaborations and other engagement with foreign parties, including by some form of technology inversion.
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Academic Research, Doing Business in the United States, Foreign Investment in the United States, National Security Law, Tech War, Technology Export Control, Technology Transfer Regulation, United States China Law and Policy, University Export Controls

BIS Rulemaking on Emerging Technologies Export Controls- Analysis

The Department of Commerce, Bureau of Industry and Security on Nov. 19 published an Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPRM) on the “Review of Controls for Certain Emerging Technologies.” The ANPRM implements the Export Control Reform Act of 2018 and raises diverse legal, regulatory, policy, and commercial issues that cut across sectors and industries. Commerce seeks to advance national security goals without harming the United States’ capacity to lead in science, technology, engineering, and manufacturing. This Regulatory Update provides analysis of the ANPRM, the relevant legal framework, and considerations for commentators.
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