In a move which could spark tension between President-elect Donald Trump and the Chinese government in the near future, US President Barack Obama on Friday blocked a Chinese company’s purchase of the US business of German chip equipment maker Aixtron.
Despite objections from China, Obama issued an order directing China’s Fujian Grand Chip Investment Fund (FGC) to “fully and permanently abandon” the proposed acquisition of Aixtron’s US business, the US Department of Treasury said in a statement.
The Committee on Foreign Investment in the US (CFIUS), which reviews foreign purchases of US companies, and Obama assess that “the transaction poses a risk to the national security of the United States that cannot be resolved through mitigation, ” the statement added.
The US president and the CFIUS have the power to block any deal if they consider national security is threatened. The traditionally opaque review process has become one of the top concerns for Chinese investments in the US,
China had urged the Obama administration not to politicise the proposed takeover ahead of Washington announcing that decision.
“The case…is a normal business acquisition and thus should be dealt with according to business principle and market rules,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang said at a regular briefing.
“We hope there will not be too much political interpretation of this normal business activity, still less political disruption,” he said.
This is not the first time that Obama has intervened to block a takeover involving a Chinese company.
In 2012, Obama blocked Chinese-owned Ralls Corp. from owning four wind farms in Oregon, citing national security risks as their locations were too close to a military facility.
Ralls sued Obama and the CFIUS for exceeding constitutional rights and failing to provide detailed evidence. In 2014, a US court ruled that Obama and the CFIUS failed to give a constitutional due process to Ralls.