U.S. puts Chinese surveillance tech firms on economic blacklist over Uyghur abuse

US blacklists 8 Chinese tech companies over human rights issues

"There is no such thing as the so-called human rights issue that the USA side claimed", said Geng Shuang, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson "The accusation is nothing but an excuse deliberately created by the U.S.in order to interfere in China's internal affairs".

A U.S. Commerce Department spokesman said the "action is unrelated to the trade negotiations", and China confirmed Vice Premier Liu He would lead the delegation as planned.

The eight firms are - Hikvision; Zhejiang Dahua Technology Co Ltd; iFlytek Co Ltd; Megvii Technology Ltd; SenseTime Group Ltd; Xiamen Meiya Pico Information Co Ltd; YITU Technology; and Yixin Science and Technology Co Ltd.

The blacklist was announced on the same day the USA and Chinese negotiators began their working-level preparations for high-level trade talks due to begin on Thursday, Oct. 10, in Washington.

Being added to the so-called "Entity List" bars companies or other entities from buying parts and components from USA companies without USA government approval.

When asked by a reporter whether China would consider a form of retaliation, Geng responded, "Please keep watching".

The Uyghur exile community welcomed the Department of Commerce's announcement on Tuesday, with Nury Turkel, a lawyer and chairman of the Washington-based Uyghur Human Rights Project, calling it a "long overdue designation that will potentially change the behavior of the Chinese government".

In an accompanying statement, Pompeo said that the State Department would restrict visas granted to government and ruling Communist Party officials involved in "detention or abuse" of Uighurs, Kazakhs or members of other predominantly Muslim ethnic groups in Xinjiang.

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Hikvision, China's biggest video surveillance system provider, "strongly opposed" the decision. This means US companies will require approval to do any kind of business with the 28 entities.

It adds that John Honovich, founder of surveillance video research company IPVM, said Hikvision and Dahua both use Intel, Nvidia, Ambarella, Western Digital and Seagate Technology as suppliers and that the impact on the Chinese companies would be "devastating".

The ongoing trade war between China and the United States has already lasted 15 months but United States officials have said that adding these Chinese AI startups and facial recognition firms to its Entity List is not tied to the resumption of trade talks between the two countries.

Rights groups say some one million Uighurs and other Muslims are being held in a vast network of camps in Xinjiang aimed at homogenizing the population into China's majority Han culture.

Megvii said Tuesday there are "no grounds" for including the company in the blacklist.

The US government previously placed Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei and its affiliates on a blacklist, citing national security concerns.

The US Senate has passed legislation requiring the government to consider sanctions against Chinese authorities.

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