US adds more Chinese firms to restricted entity list

WASHINGTON (REUTERS) – The US Commerce Department placed export restrictions on several Chinese companies on Thursday (Dec 16) for several national security reasons including what Washington says is their roles in the oppression of China’s Uighurs or for helping Beijing’s military.

A senior administration official said the Commerce Department and Treasury Department would announce a series of actions on Thursday targeting Chinese companies that Washington says use biotechnology and surveillance to abuse human rights.

The Chinese Embassy in Washington did not respond immediately to a request for comment.

The US move on Thursday followed a US investment ban placed last week on Chinese facial recognition company SenseTime and could worsen already rocky relations between Beijing and Washington.

Aside from China, the Commerce Department also took action against entities from Georgia, Malaysia and Turkey for allegedly “diverting or attempting to divert US items to Iran’s military programmes”.

Citing their role in the Chinese government’s alleged oppression of ethnic Uighurs, the official said the Commerce Department will add China’s Academy of Military Medical Sciences and its 11 research institutes to its list of companies and institutions, restricting access to exports.

The department also added HMN International, formerly Huawei Marine, as well as Jiangsu Hengtong Marine Cable Systems, Jiangsu Hengtong Optic-Electric, Shanghai Aoshi Control Technology and Zhongtian Technology Submarine Cable to the list for allegedly acquiring, or attempting to acquire, technology from the US to help modernise the People’s Liberation Army.

United Nations experts and rights groups estimate more than a million people, mainly Uighurs and members of other Muslim minorities, have been detained in recent years in a vast system of camps in China’s far-west region of Xinjiang.

China denies abuses in Xinjiang.

“These (Thursday’s) actions come in the broader context of the administration’s efforts to address the misuse of technology to surveil, and in many cases, as with the PRC, to exercise large scale repressive social control,” the senior official told reporters, referring to the People’s Republic of China.

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