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Plans by China to draw up a blacklist of U.S. technology firms might sound great to hardliners as a retaliatory measure against Washington, but would most likely backfire. Pulling the trigger on such a threat could end up proving that the importance of the world’s most populous country as a global buyer may be smaller than many imagine.

Beijing has sped development of a catalog of companies it could target, yet debate remains in the halls of power over whether to release it before November’s U.S. election, if at all, the Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday, citing officials it didn’t name. China has been mulling what it calls an unreliable entities list since at least May last year, though little has been heard of it since then.

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