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UK firms asked to disclose China investments as Sunak mulls joining US in trade bans

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A host of British firms have been asked by the government to hand over information on their investments in China, as the UK looks to take stock of its business ties to the state amid increasing geopolitical tensions.

The government confirmed today that a survey was sent to a number of UK firms last month seeking to understand firms’ investments across 17 sectors, including robotics, communications, transport and cryptography, the coding of messages.

China was not the only focus in the survey, which was first reported by Politico, as it also asked questions about investments in other countries including Australia, Canada and even the US.

The survey also follows US president Joe Biden’s new national executive order that looks to regulate US firms’ investments in Chinese tech sectors.

A spokesperson for the Department of Business and Trade said: “The Prime Minister and President Biden have rightly put our economic security at the forefront of UK-US cooperation, as seen at the signing of the Atlantic Declaration.

“This Executive Order on outward investment gives important clarity on the US approach. The UK will consider these new measures closely as we continue to assess potential national security risks attached to some investments.”

The ‘Atlantic Declaration’, inked by Biden and Prime Minister Rishi Sunak in June, commits the countries to stopping technology investments in “countries of concern”, and fuel advances in their military or intelligence departments.

However, some have criticized the declaration warning that broad restrictions could hinder the country’s economic growth and hurt the UK’s semiconductor sector.

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