China’s infiltration of U.S. capital markets is a national security concern
By Josh Rogin
June 13, 2019
The Washington Post
Part of the United States’ awakening to the complex challenges posed by a rising China is the realization that America’s economic vulnerabilities are also national security vulnerabilities. And it’s not just about trade.
U.S. capital markets are drastically increasing their holdings of Chinese companies, giving Beijing massive leverage inside the United States and posing huge risks to U.S. investors and the U.S. economy. This practice transfers billions of dollars out of the United States and into China, while also placing U.S. investors in the position of gambling their economic futures on Chinese companies that are beyond the reach of U.S. government oversight and accountability.
For example, the world’s largest index provider, MSCI, has been steadily increasing its holdings of Chinese assets this year, reportedly “after it came under heavy pressure by the Chinese government.” MSCI will quadruple its mainland Chinese holdings this year, which will send about $80 billion of U.S. cash into the struggling Chinese economy right away.
“We can no longer allow China’s authoritarian government to reap the rewards of American and international capital markets while Chinese companies avoid financial disclosure and basic transparency, and place U.S. investors and pensioners at risk,” Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) told me. “Firms like MSCI have an obligation to make sure investors know whether their investment dollars are unwittingly aiding Chinese state-owned and state-directed companies.”
Rubio sent a letter Wednesday to MSCI demanding that the index provider give Congress information on its decision to invest in several Chinese firms and increase the weighting of Chinese company shares in its indexes. For example, Rubio wants information on Hikvision, a Chinese video surveillance company that could soon be sanctioned for its role in surveillance and detention of more than 1 million Uighur Muslims inside China.
If millions of Americans have invested in Hikvision, their financial interest would be set against the U.S. government’s drive to hold Chinese companies accountable for human rights violations. More broadly, Wall Street is making Americans fund China’s internal repression and Beijing’s economic strategy against the United States.
“In reality, what MSCI is doing is allowing the Chinese Communist Party controlled market, and its state-owned national champion companies, to access a critical source of capital and clothe itself in a façade of legitimacy,” the letter states.