BEIJING, Jan 3 (Reuters) - A U.S. government panel’s decision to block Ant Financial’s $1.2 billion acquisition of MoneyGram International Inc. is another indication that goodwill built during President Donald Trump’s November Beijing trip is fading, according to China’s state-run Xinhua news agency.
The U.S. Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States rejected the deal on national security concerns, the most high-profile Chinese acquisition blocked under the Trump administration. The U.S. government has also been pressing China on multiple fronts including fairer bilateral trade and greater market access for U.S. companies.
“In the last 30 days of 2017, the U.S. government launched a Section 301 investigation into Chinese intellectual property and technology transfer, self-initiated probes into Chinese-made aluminum products, and rejected China’s market economy status at the World Trade Organization,” Xinhua said in a commentary on Wednesday.
“The bonhomie that grew between China and the United States in Beijing in November, when the two signed hundreds of billions of dollars of deals, seems to be fading away as the U.S. side is stuck in a zero-sum mentality,” it said.
It added that retaliatory measures from China “could be on the table” should the United States continue on its current course.
Ant Financial is controlled by Jack Ma, executive chairman of Chinese internet conglomerate Alibaba Group Holding Ltd , and other Alibaba executives. The firm sought to buy money transfer firm MoneyGram to boost its global footprint amid fierce competition from rival Tencent Holdings Ltd’s WeChat payment platform.
Sources familiar with the matter told Reuters the U.S. panel blocked the deal on concerns about the safety of the data that can be used to identify U.S. citizens, rejecting proposals from Ant Financial and MoneyGram that sought to mitigate such risks.
“With deep-rooted strategic mistrust toward China, U.S. politicians have failed to catch up with China’s understanding of cooperation and adopted an increasingly protective and isolationist approach,” the Xinhua commentary said.
China’s foreign ministry said separately on Wednesday that it hopes the U.S. can create a level playing field and a predictable environment for Chinese firms. (Reporting by Se Young Lee; Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman)