Asia

Dozens of Chinese companies added to US blacklist in latest Beijing rebuke

WASHINGTON: The United States said on Friday (May 22) it would add 33 Chinese firms and institutions to an economic blacklist for helping Beijing spy on its minority Uighur population or because of ties to weapons of mass destruction and China's military.

The US Commerce Department's move marked the Trump administration's latest efforts to crack down on companies whose goods may support Chinese military activities and to punish Beijing for its treatment of Muslim minorities. It came as Communist Party rulers in Beijing on Friday unveiled details of a plan to impose national security laws on Hong Kong.

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READ: US steps up threats to strip Hong Kong's trading privileges over China security law

Seven companies and two institutions were listed for being "complicit in human rights violations and abuses committed in China's campaign of repression, mass arbitrary detention, forced labour and high-technology surveillance against Uighurs" and others, the Commerce Department said in a statement.

Two dozen other companies, government institutions and commercial organisations were added for supporting the procurement of items for use by the Chinese military, the department said in another statement.

The blacklisted companies focus on artificial intelligence and facial recognition, markets that US chip companies such as Nvidia and Intel have been heavily investing in.

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Among the companies named is NetPosa, one of China's most famous AI companies, whose facial recognition subsidiary is linked to the surveillance of Muslims.

Qihoo360, a major cybersecurity firm taken private and delisted from the Nasdaq in 2015, recently made headlines for claiming it had found evidence that CIA hacking tools were used to target the Chinese aviation sector.

READ: US Senate approves bill to pressure China over Uighur rights

The Commerce Department said it was adding the firms and institutions to its "entity list", which restricts sales of US goods shipped to them and some more limited items made abroad with US content or technology. Companies can apply for licences to make the sales, but they must overcome a presumption of denial.

The latest blacklistings "continue the US government's long-running efforts to prohibit exports to Chinese companies engaged in human rights violations or supporting the Chinese military," said Washington lawyer Kevin Wolf, a former Commerce official.

Softbank Group-backed CloudMinds was also added. It operates a cloud-based service tRead More – Source

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