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The Biden administration on Friday added 14 Chinese companies and other entities to its economic sanctions blacklist due to alleged human rights abuses and high-tech surveillance in Xinjiang.
The Commerce Department alleged the companies had been "implicated in human rights violations and abuses in the implementation of China’s campaign of repression, mass detention, and high technology surveillance against Uyghurs, Kazakhs, and other members of Muslim minority groups in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region."
Beijing and its allies worldwide deny the alleged abuses.
They sanctions have been placed against the China Academy of Electronics and Information Technology; Xinjiang Lianhai Chuangzhi Information Technology Co; Shenzhen Cobber Information Technology Co; Xinjiang Sailing Information Technology; Beijing Geling Shentong Information Technology; Shenzhen Hua'antai Intelligent Technology Co., Ltd.; and Chengdu Xiwu Security System Alliance Co., Ltd.
The Commerce Department stated it would add a total of 34 entities, including some from Russia and Iran, and another five entities directly supporting China's military modernization programs related to lasers and battle management system.
Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo said in a statement: “The Department of Commerce remains firmly committed to taking strong, decisive action to target entities that are enabling human rights abuses in Xinjiang or that use U.S. technology to fuel China’s destabilizing military modernization efforts."
The list includes eight entities for facilitating the export of U.S. items to Iran and six entities for involvement in the procurement of U.S.-origin electronic components, purportedly for involvement in Russian military programs.
The action follows the U.S. decision last month to add five more companies and other Chinese entities to the blacklist over unfounded allegations of forced labor in the far western region of China.
China rotundly rejects accusations of genocide and forced labor in Xinjiang, saying its policies are necessary to stamp out separatists and religious extremists who plot attacks and stir up tension between mostly Muslim ethnic Uyghurs and Han, China's largest ethnic group.
In an escalation of the new cold war on China, the European Parliament plans to call for a boycott of the Beijing Winter Olympics.
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"The Chinese side will take all necessary measures to safeguard the legitimate rights and interests of Chinese companies and rejects U.S. attempts to interfere in China's internal affairs," said foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin on Friday.
This action demonstrates President Biden's intentions to pressure China over what the U.S. claims are worsening human rights abuses against the Uyghur population in Xinjiang.
Entities added to these types of blacklists are required to apply for Commerce Department licenses and face tough scrutiny when seeking permission to receive items from U.S. suppliers.
In 2019, the Trump administration included many of China’s top artificial intelligence startups to its sanctions list supposedly due to their treatment of Muslim minorities.
Trump's Commerce Department targeted 20 Chinese public security bureaus and eight companies including video surveillance firm Hikvision, as well as leaders in facial recognition technology SenseTime Group Ltd and Megvii Technology Ltd.