The world’s largest asset manager and a leading investment index provider are facing congressional probes for allegedly facilitating the flow of U.S. dollars into Chinese companies that the United States has deemed to be fueling China’s military or the regime’s human rights abuses.
In letters dated July 31 to BlackRock CEO Larry Fink and MSCI head Henry Fernandez, the U.S. House’s China Select Committee stated that a brief review of MSCI indexes and BlackRock funds showed that the two companies together have directed investments to more than 60 Chinese entities already on the U.S. blacklist.
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As a “direct result” of BlackRock’s and MSCI’s decisions, Americans who invested savings in their funds are now “unwittingly funding” Chinese companies that build weapons for the Chinese military known as the People’s Liberation Army, giving a hand to “the CCP’s stated mission of technological supremacy,” Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-Wis.), the committee’s chairman, and Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-Ill.), the ranking Democrat, wrote.
“It is unconscionable for any U.S. company to profit from investments that fuel the military advancement of America’s foremost foreign adversary and facilitate human rights abuses,” the lawmakers wrote, adding that the “massive flows of American capital” to these entities are “exacerbating an already significant national security threat and undermining American values.”
In the case of BlackRock, across five funds alone, the asset manager has invested more than $429 million in flagged Chinese firms, while nearly 5 percent of the MSCI China A Index is pegged to blacklisted entities. Such numbers, the lawmakers suspect, are only the tip of the iceberg.
The probe makes up part of the committee’s ongoing investigation into U.S. investments in China, which, in July, included venture capital firms that have invested in China-based artificial intelligence, semiconductor, and quantum companies.
A tough stance on China is one of the few issues that garner support from both political sides in the deeply divided Congress. The bipartisan House panel, formed in January, makes policy recommendations and has subpoena power, which Mr. Gallagher has said he would use if executives fail to cooperate with the committee probes.
“Both Democrats and Republicans can agree that we should not be funding PLA military modernization, supporting the CCP’s techno-totalitarian surveillance state, nor the CCP’s gross human rights abuses,” a source close to the committee told The Epoch Times.
MSCI has more than $13 trillion benchmarked to its products, making it one of the largest index providers globally. BlackRock oversees more than $9 trillion in assets, and is responsible to millions of U.S. investors who depend on its services for their future retirement.
BlackRock told The Epoch Times in a statement that it “complies with all applicable U.S. government laws” with “all investments in China and markets around the world,” and will continue to engage with the committee on the issues raised.
“Like many global asset managers, BlackRock offers our clients a number of strategies to invest in or exclude China from their portfolios. The majority of our clients’ investments in China are through index funds, and we are one of 16 asset managers currently offering U.S. index funds investing in Chinese companies,” a company spokesperson said.
MSCI, similarly, said it’s reviewing the request for information from the lawmakers.
“MSCI indexes measure the performance of equity markets available to international investors, and comply with all applicable U.S. laws. MSCI does not manage or recommend or facilitate investments in any country,” an MSCI spokesperson told The Epoch Times.
The Chinese entities on MSCI indexes include state-owned aerospace firm Aviation Industry Corp. China, which makes aircraft for the Chinese military; BGI Genomics, a military-linked Chinese genetics giant that the United States has found complicit in supporting forced labor; and ZTE, whose telecom equipment the United States banned last year, citing national security risks.
BlackRock, meanwhile, has funded a major subsidiary of China General Nuclear Power Group that the U.S. authorities accused of stealing U.S. nuclear technology, as well as that of China North Industries Group Co., producer of artillery shells and munitions for the Chinese military.
The lawmakers said they want to see a list of all the companies on MSCI indexes, as well as the thinking behind their inclusion, policies, and guidance documents relating to conflicts of interest that BlackRock has applied when engaging with China-linked entities, and details of U.S. investor exposure.
Article cross-posted from our premium news partners at The Epoch Times.
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