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President Donald Trump has stepped up a conflict with China over security and technology by issuing an order barring Americans from investing in companies that US officials say are owned or controlled by the Chinese military.
The impact of the order Thursday wasn't immediately clear but it could add to pressure on companies including telecom equipment giant Huawei and video surveillance provider Hikvision that already face US export bans and other sanctions.
U.S. officials complain China's ruling Communist Party takes advantage of access to American technology and investment to expand its military, already one of the world's biggest and most heavily armed.
Thursday's order complains the companies targeted "directly support'' the Chinese military, intelligence and security apparatus. It said Beijing "exploits United States investors'' to finance military development by selling securities in American and foreign financial markets.
The order bars American investors from conducting any transactions in publicly traded securities issued by any Chinese companies designated by the secretary of defense as being linked to the Communist Party's military wing, the People's Liberation Army.
The Pentagon earlier designated 31 companies as being owned or controlled by the Chinese military. Many are military contractors or state-owned companies such as phone carrier China Telecom Ltd. But the list also includes Huawei Technologies Ltd. and Hikvision Digital Technology Co., which say they are private and deny they are controlled by the military.