Published: Tue, October 08, 2019
Global News | By Blake Casey

U.S. blacklists 8 Chinese tech companies over human rights issues

U.S. blacklists 8 Chinese tech companies over human rights issues

"We urge the United States to immediately correct its mistakes, withdraw relevant decisions and stop interfering with China's internal affairs", said Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang at a press briefing.

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.

"These accusations are nothing more than an excuse for the United States to deliberately interfere in China's internal affairs". "China will take firm and strong actions to firmly protect its interests of sovereignty, safety and development", Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said during a briefing in Beijing.

The US government has added eight firms specialising in facial recognition to the so-called "entity list" of foreign firms which are banned from trading with US companies.

US officials said the action was not tied to this week's resumption of trade talks with China, but it signals no let-up in US President Donald Trump's hard-line stance as the world's two biggest economies seek to end their 15-month trade war.

Being on the blacklist, like Huawei also is, means suppliers can not provide USA technology to the firms without a special license.

USA officials previously said the Trump administration was considering sanctions against officials linked to China's crackdown on Muslims, including Xinjiang Party Secretary Chen Quanguo, who, as a member of the powerful politburo, is in the upper echelons of China's leadership. "The measures taken by China to eliminate extremism from the roots are fully in line with Chinese law and worldwide practice", he said. AI giants SenseTime Group Ltd. - the most valuable AI startup in the world, according to Bloomberg - and Megvii Technology Ltd., both backed by Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba, are also part of the list.

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Vendors are barred from selling US technology to the Chinese companies without government permission.

Megvii said it strongly objected to being placed on the blacklist and that it required its clients not to weaponize its technology or use it for illegal purposes.

"The U.S. government and Department of Commerce can not and will not tolerate the brutal suppression of ethnic minorities within China", Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross said in a statement on Monday.

AI company SenseTime said it was "deeply disappointed" and would "work closely with all relevant authorities to fully understand and resolve the situation".

Hikvision, with a market value of about $42 billion, receives almost RMB 15 billion (around $2.1 billion) in revenue, or 30% of its total revenue, from overseas.

IFlytek said in a statement Tuesday that being barred from doing business with US firms won't have a serious impact on its "daily operations".

In August, the Trump administration launched an intervening time rule banning federal purchases of telecommunications equipment from five Chinese corporations, including Huawei and Hikvision. The White House in May had readied the sanctions package for surveillance technology companies accused of human rights violations, but made a decision to hold back because of the trade negotiations.

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