USA puts Chinese surveillance tech firms on economic blacklist over Uyghur abuse

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While U.S. officials said the announcement was not tied to this week's resumption of trade talks with China, the announcement sets the tone for a potentially more aggressive positioning by Washington in negotiations with Beijing to end a 15-month trade war between the world's biggest economies.

Why? The US says they have been involved in human rights violations against Uighurs and other predominantly Muslim ethnic minorities.

The U.S. Department of Commerce announced the move Monday, restricting U.S. companies from exporting products to the blacklisted entities - which include Hikvision, one of the world's largest suppliers of video surveillance equipment.

The other companies added to the list are Dahua Technology, IFLYTEK, Megvii Technology, Sense Time, Xiamen Meiya Pico Information, Yitu Technologies and Yixin Science and Technology.

The Trump administration placed eight Chinese technology giants on a US blacklist on Monday, accusing them of being implicated in human rights violations against Muslim minorities in the country's far-western region of Xinjiang.

Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross walks into the East Room of the White House before a news conference with President Trump and Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison, Friday, September 20, 2019, in Washington.

"While highly symbolic, the Commerce Department's action is unlikely to have a major practical impact on the Chinese firms, which rely on plenty of non-U.S. suppliers and have had months of advance warning to diversify their supply chains away from USA companies", the WSJ said.

The US fears that systems built by Huawei could be used by Beijing for espionage via secret "backdoors" built into telecom networking equipment.

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The list also includes several regional government agencies.

The curbs are an added strain for U.S.

Hikvision responded to the new by saying the company "strongly opposes today's decision by the United States government" and that the firm "respects human rights and takes our responsibility to protect people in the U.S. and the world seriously".

"Hikvision, as the security industry's global leader, respects human rights and takes our responsibility to protect people in the USA and the world seriously", a company spokesperson said.

IFlytek said its placement on the blacklist would not affect its daily operations. Backed by Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba Group Holding Ltd., the pair are at the forefront of China's ambition to dominate AI in coming years.

Hikvision said the company strongly opposed the USA decision, adding it had been working with Trump administration officials over the last 12 months "to clarify misunderstandings about the company and address their concerns". Shares in USA seller Ambarella fell 12% in after-hours buying and selling on the news. "That's why China has put more than one million Uighur Muslims ... in internment camps and is why it throws Christian pastors in jail".

The White House in May had readied the sanctions package for surveillance technology companies accused of human rights violations but chose to hold back because of the ongoing trade negotiations. The measure announced Monday targets providers of technology Washington says is being used to repress Muslim ethnic minorities.

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