Trump Blocks China-Backed Bid to Buy U.S. Chip Maker
President Trump on Wednesday blocked a China-backed investor from buying an American semiconductor maker over national security concerns, a rare move that could signal more aggressive scrutiny of China's deal-making ambitions.
The deal for Lattice Semiconductor has provided a test of the president's economic and diplomatic relationship with China.
Derek M. Scissors, a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute who studies Chinese investment, said that the administration's decision over Lattice was intended to send a political message. "We could let it die quietly," he said, "but we're going to kill it loudly."
The White House said on Wednesday that it prevented the acquisition of Lattice Semiconductor, in part because the United States government relies on the company's products. The integrity of the semiconductor industry, it said, was vital.
The decision could foretell trouble for other Chinese deals under review by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, a multiagency group that examines takeovers of American companies by foreign buyers and makes recommendations to the president. The group, which operates largely in secrecy, is also looking at the proposed purchase of MoneyGram International by Ant Financial, an affiliate of the Chinese technology giant Alibaba Group.
Chinese deal-making in the United States has surged in recent years, as cash-rich companies look overseas to diversify and spread their wealth. Last year, Chinese investment hit $46 billion, a threefold increase from 2015 before, according to the research firm Rhodium Group.