Twenty-eight Chinese organizations have been added to a United States blacklist due to alleged human rights abuses in the Xinjiang region of China.
The U.S. Department of Commerce has added 28 commercial companies and government agencies to its Entity List, which identifies individuals and organizations that the U.S. government believes to pose a risk to the national security and/or foreign policy of the United States. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said in a statement that the blacklisting is a response to the oppression of Uighurs and Muslim ethnic minorities in the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region (XUAR)of northwest China.
“The U.S. Government and Department of Commerce cannot and will not tolerate the brutal suppression of ethnic minorities within China,” said Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross. “This action will ensure that our technologies, fostered in an environment of individual liberty and free enterprise, are not used to repress defenseless minority populations.”
The eight companies barred from buying U.S. products and importing technology include Hiivision, SenseTime Group, Megvii Technology and Meiya Pico. These firms represent some of China’s, and the world’s, leading technology companies, particularly in the artificial intelligence realm.
According to Reuters, Hikivision is the “world’s largest purveyor of video surveillance systems.” SenseTime Group has been recognized as one of the most valuable AI startups in the world.
China has responded that the human rights accusations are baseless. A Chinese spokesperson says the government will likely retaliate for the blacklists.
“The US accusations against China are groundless and senseless. They only expose the evil motives of the United States to interfere with counterterrorism efforts in Xinjiang and thwart China’s development,” China’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said.
This is the latest episode in the long-running trade war with China. It comes just as trade talks are set to resume this Thursday in Washington.