Trump Sets Sights on New Chinese Companies to Target, Such as Alibaba

US President Donald Trump signaled that he may take action against more Chinese companies, including e-commerce giant Alibaba, after ordering ByteDance to sell its US assets within 90 days.

Asked on Saturday at a news conference whether he was considering punitive measures against other Chinese companies, such as Alibaba, Trump replied: “Well, we’re looking at other things, yes,” Reuters reported. 

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“His affirmative answer is more likely an indication that he will consider banning other Chinese companies in the US but not specifically Alibaba,” said Feng Chucheng, a political risk analyst and partner at the independent research firm Plenum China Research. “However, we do see that Ant Financial, the highest-valued fin-tech company affiliated to Alibaba, at risk of being banned in the US.” 

The Trump administration has taken a series of measures against China and its companies in recent months in order to address what they regard as “national security” threats from China.

In a recent order for TikTok issued on Friday, the US demanded that its Chinese parent company ByteDance divests its US operations of TikTok within 90 days, stating that American authorities have “credible evidence” that the tech giant could “imperil national security.”

Before the Friday order, Trump signed a separate executive order prohibiting any transactions between US citizens and the video-sharing app, scheduled to come into effect 45 days after its signing. 

Meanwhile, US tech company Microsoft has been in talks to acquire TikTok’s U.S. operations. 

Feng said that the Trump administration’s moves against Chinese companies in the US is representative of a changing dynamic between the two countries, as political elites in the US increasingly pursue a strategy of containment with regards to China as opposed to engagement.

“Chinese tech firms that are rapidly expanding in the US and around the world, which will inevitably challenge or even replace American tech dominance, are clearly on the radar,” Feng said. “We assess that tech friction between the US and China will continue to be a central part of the bilateral trade relationship in the years to come, with or without Trump.”