The Pentagon has published a list of 20 Chinese companies it says are backed by the military, in the latest instance of a running tit-for-tat economic battle between Washington and Beijing.

Telecom giant Huawei -- which has been dogged by allegations of stealing American trade secrets and aiding China's espionage efforts -- and video surveillance giant Hikvision are among the firms named in the list, according to Bloomberg.

"As the People's Republic of China attempts to blur the lines between civil and military sectors, 'knowing your supplier' is critical," said Pentagon spokesman Jonathan Rath Hoffman.

The list covers firms "owned by, controlled by, or affiliated with China's government, military, or defense industry," Hoffman said in a statement.

"We envision this list will be a useful tool for the U.S. Government, companies, investors, academic institutions, and likeminded partners to conduct due diligence with regard to partnerships with these entities," he added.

Tensions have been mounting between Beijing and Washington on a number of fronts -- including trade.

Huawei is one of 20 Chinese companies the Pentagon says are backed by the Chinese military
Huawei is one of 20 Chinese companies the Pentagon says are backed by the Chinese military AFP / Joe KLAMAR

US President Donald Trump has pursued a bruising trade war with China, and warned last week of "complete decoupling" between the world's top two economies despite both sides pledging to move forward on a trade deal.

China last month warned it would take "necessary measures" to protect Huawei and other firms after the US announced new restrictions on the tech giant's purchases of semiconductor technology.

Huawei did not immediately respond on the publication of the list but has previously denied ties with the Chinese government.

A Hikvision spokesman said it "strongly opposes" the US move, calling its inclusion in the list "baseless" and saying details of its ownership are publicly available as a publicly traded company.

"Hikvision has never participated in any R&D work for military applications," said the spokesman of the firm, which has been accused of contributing to human rights abuses.

AFP has reached out to other companies on the list, including China Telecom and China Mobile, for comment.