US adds 28 Chinese entities to trade blacklist over abuses in Xinjiang

Washington: The US Commerce Department on Monday said it had added 28 Chinese organisations to a United States blacklist over concerns about their role in human rights violations, effectively blocking those entities from buying American products.

The organisations, including Zhejiang Dahua Technology, IFLYTEK Co, Xiamen Meiya Pico Information Co, and Yixin Science and Technology Co., have been implicated in China’s campaign targeting Uighurs and other predominantly Muslim minorities in the autonomous region of Xinjiang, The New York Times reported.

The entities list also include Hikvision and Dahua Technology, two of the world’s largest manufacturers of video surveillance products.

The list also includes companies that specialise in artificial intelligence, voice recognition and data as well as provincial and local security bureaus.
These entities have been involved “in the implementation of China’s campaign of repression, mass arbitrary detention, and high-technology surveillance,” the Commerce Department said.

The move was announced just days before high-level Chinese and American officials are expected to meet in Washington in a bid to resolve the trade barrier between the two countries.

Over the longer term, the blacklist could hamper the entities’ access to the United States and European markets, as well as damage recruitment efforts.
On Monday, a Commerce Department spokesman was quoted as saying that the action was not related to those talks. But the decision is likely to rankle the Chinese government, which has helped support some of these companies as they have developed into cutting-edge technology firms.

“The U.S. government and Department of Commerce cannot and will not tolerate the brutal suppression of ethnic minorities within China,” Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said in a statement.

China has faced growing condemnation from human rights groups in recent months for its detention of up to one million ethnic Uighurs and other minority Muslims in large internment camps in Xinjiang.

Beijing has constructed an advanced surveillance system, in what it describes as an effort to fight Islamic extremism among the Uighurs, the largest ethnic group in Xinjiang. However, minorities allege that Beijing has been trying to suppress their culture and religion.

Human Rights Watch has further condemned China’s actions by saying that the violations are of a “scope and scale not seen in China since the 1966-1976 Cultural Revolution”.