May 23, 2020 11:52 UTC
  • US to add 33 Chinese companies to economic blacklist

The United States has decided to add 33 Chinese firms and institutions to an economic blacklist over alleged human rights violations or having ties with China’s military.

The US Commerce Department announced the decision on Friday, citing national security concerns and Beijing's treatment of its Uighur Muslim minority.

The department said in a statement that nine companies were included in the list for their alleged complicity in human rights violations and abuses, mass arbitrary detention, forced labor and high-technology surveillance against Uighur Muslims and other ethnic minorities.

It further said 24 governmental and commercial organizations were also added to the list for allegedly helping procure items for the Chinese military.

The blacklisted companies focus on artificial intelligence and 5G communication networks.

Among the companies added to the list are NetPosa, one of China's most famous AI companies, Qihoo360, a major cybersecurity firm as well as Softbank Group Corp-backed CloudMinds.

These firms could not be immediately reached for comment.

The commerce department said the blacklisted companies will be subject to sanctions which restrict their access to American technology and the purchase of US-related goods.

The development came after Washington imposed new restrictions on Chinese tech giant Huawei last week, severely limiting its ability to use American technology to design and manufacture semiconductors produced for it abroad, as part of a new escalation in the US-China battle for global technological dominance.

The new listings follow a similar measure last October when the Commerce Department added 28 Chinese public bureaus and companies -- including video surveillance company Hikvision—to a US trade blacklist over the treatment of Uighurs.

Friday’s development is the latest escalation in a row between the United States and China, which has intensified this year over the coronavirus pandemic and more recently over the Hong Kong pro-democracy movement.

On Friday, China imposed a new security law on Hong Kong in an attempt to restore calm to the semi-autonomous city after seven months of fierce anti-government protests last year.