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Will Trump Stop Investment of US Govt Pensions in China?

Will Trump Stop Investment of US Govt Pensions in China?
(AP)

By Monday, 20 April 2020 10:50 AM Current | Bio | Archive

Three years ago, the federal board that oversees the retirement plans of civilian government employees and the U.S. military made a little noticed, but very critical decision: to permit for the first time its International Fund investments in an index which includes state-run companies in China.

That permitted the funds that provide retirement benefits for American soldiers, sailors, and pilots to be invested in firms whose major functions include brutally subverting freedom.

The Thrift Savings Plan (TSP), the federal government’s 401(k) plan for personnel, will soon have roughly $50 billion invested in the MSCI All Country World — a list which includes corporations which are now militarizing China’s long-disputed islands in the South China sea, weapons merchants affiliated with the People’s Liberation Army (PLA), and corporate human rights abusers.

White House sources told Newsmax President Donald Trump is aware of this decision to have retirement funds of government officials and U.S. military personnel invested in Chinese businesses, but so far has not acted to rescind it.

But the same sources say this may change soon as newly named White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows gradually assumes control in the West Wing. 

As a Republican congressman from North Carolina, Meadows offered the legislation in the House to stop the TSP’s investment of U.S. retirement funds in China. The companion measure in the Senate was offered by Republican Marco Rubio of Florida and Democrat Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire.

The genesis of this strange opening of U.S. retirement funds to Chinese government-run businesses began in May of 2017.  That’s when the five-member Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board (FRTIB), which oversees the TSP, voted to change the index it uses for its international fund. 

In expanding the accessibility of the government funds for investment in Chinese companies, the FRTIB  opened the door to retirement money for the U.S. government and the military invested in companies that already are sanctioned by the U.S.

One company on the MSCI ACW Index, for example, is AviChina Industry and Technology Ltd., which develops fighter planes, helicopters, and unmanned aircraft systems for the People’s Liberation Army. For 18 years, AviChina has been  sanctioned repeatedly by the U.S. for providing missile components for Iran and North Korea in violation of the Iran, North Korea and Syria Non-Proliferation Act.

Another company in which American retirement dollars can be invested is China Unicom (Hong Kong) Ltd.  This high-tech firm provides telecommunications equipment to the Paracel (Xisha) and Spratly (Nansha) Islands in the South China Sea, control over which China has long disputed with Japan. 

Still another controversial site for investment is Hangzhou Hikvision Digital Company, Ltd.  Hangzhou is responsible for security surveillance equipment to tighten the Chinese grip over the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR). 

At the time of its very consequential vote in 2017, a majority of the five-member FRTIB were appointees of President Obama.  Their terms have long since expired and, while President Trump is presently entitled to name three appointees, not one is in place. 

It will take an executive order from Trump to stop the flow of U.S. government retirement dollars into Chinese state-controlled businesses.  Whether he does this and when will be a defining moment in the current turbulent relations between the U.S. and the People’s Republic of China. 

John Gizzi is chief political columnist and White House correspondent for Newsmax. For more of his reports, Go Here Now.

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Three years ago, the federal board that oversees the retirement plans of civilian government employees and the U.S. military made a little noticed, but very critical decision: to permit its International Fund investments in an index which includes state-run companies in China.
us, government pensions
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2020-50-20
Monday, 20 April 2020 10:50 AM
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