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President Donald Trump. (Photo: Kevin Sanders for California Globe)

President Trump Orders Federal Retirement Funds Invested in Chinese Equities to be Pulled

California’s CalPERS public employee pension fund invested in blacklisted Chinese companies

By Katy Grimes, May 12, 2020 2:20 am

President Trump is moving to cut investment ties between U.S. federal retirement funds and Chinese equities, in a move that is tied to the handling of COVID 19, Fox News reported Monday evening.

“National security adviser Robert O’Brien and National Economic Council Chair Larry Kudlow write to U.S. Labor Secretary Eugene Scalia stating that the White House does not want the Thrift Savings Plan, which is a federal employee retirement fund, to have money invested in Chinese equities that numbers about $4 billion in assets.”

California’s China Investments

California Globe has reported on the California Public Employees’ Retirement System, the largest public pension fund in the nation, which has invested $3.1 billion in Chinese companies, some of which have been blacklisted by the U.S. government.

Rep. Jim Banks (R-IND) sent California Governor Gavin Newsom a letter in February calling for the investigation of the Chief Investment Officer Yu Ben Meng of the California Public Employees’ Retirement System, for his “long and cozy relationship with China.”

Instead of a response from Gov. Newsom, CalPERS created a brand new “fact sheet” about their investments, including, “CalPERS has been investing in China for decades.” It is common knowledge that CalPERS does make investments based on policy and politics. CalPERS has divested from Israel and tobacco to name a few.

The letter to U.S. Labor Secretary Eugene Scalia says the Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board is “Departing from the Board’s established index for the International Stock Investment Fund (I Fund) to track one that maintains Chinese equities is risky and unjustified.” The letter directly links China’s handling of COVID-19 as one of several reasons why investment in Chinese companies should not occur.

Ahead of the COVID-19 outbreak, Rep. Banks was speaking out about Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s warning, “California’s investment fund is invested in companies that supply the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) that puts our soldiers, sailors, Airmen and Marines at risk.” In his letter to Gov. Newsom he said, “CalPERS 2018-2019 report confirms the Secretary’s statement.”

“We learned that Mr. Meng, who is the chief investment officer of CalPERS, was actually recruited to this position by the [Chinese Communist Party] through something called the Thousand Talents Program. Now he’s denied it,” Banks said.

In addition to the $360 billion in assets, Rep. Banks said in his letter that CalPERS has a notable history of “shareholder activism.”

As for the letter to Labor Secretary Scalia, It concludes by saying that moving the assets out of a certain fund is “at the direction of President Trump.”

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