Senior U.S. officials were considering adding the companies to a list of so-called Chinese military companies, which would have placed them under a U.S. investment ban.
The administration of US President Donald Trump has scrapped plans to blacklist Chinese tech giants Alibaba, Tencent and Baidu, four people familiar with the matter told Reuters news agency, offering a brief reprieve to major Beijing companies amid a broader Washington crackdown.
Senior administration officials were considering adding the companies to a list of so-called Chinese military companies, which would have placed them under a new U.S. investment ban.
But Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, who is widely seen to take a more conciliatory stance on China, pushed back, freezing plans, the people said. Even so, the Trump administration plans to move forward this week with an offer to add up to nine more Chinese companies to the list, one of the people said.
The Treasury and State Departments and the Pentagon did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Abrupt move highlights deep divisions within Washington over Chinese policy, even as outgoing President Trump seeks to solidify his harsh legacy towards China and lock President-elect Joe Biden into aggressive measures against the second economy global.
Last month, the White House added China’s top chipmaker, SMIC, and oil giant CNOOC to the blacklist, as Reuters first reported. Trump also unveiled an executive order in January banning U.S. transactions with eight Chinese apps, including Ant Group Alipay.
While Trump touted a signed trade deal between rival nations, relations between Washington and Beijing deteriorated last year due to China’s handling of the deadly coronavirus and its crackdown on freedoms in Hong Kong.