US Adds More Chinese Firms to Trade Blacklist for Human Rights Abuses

By Ashok Ramprasad | December 19, 2021
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(Image: https://pixabay.com/photos/us-capitol-government-washington-dc-477987/> CC0 1.0)

The Biden administration imposed trade restrictions on over 30 Chinese companies and research institutes on Dec. 16. These entities were accused of being involved in the development of technologies used for human rights abuses and military purposes.

According to a notice in the Federal Register, China’s Academy of Military Medical Sciences and 11 of its research institutes have been indicted by the U.S. Commerce Department for deploying biotechnology “to support Chinese military end uses and end users, to include purported brain-control weaponry.”

Though the notice did not go into details of the alleged brain-control weaponry, some of the Chinese military’s programs aimed at improving capabilities of soldiers by employing CRISPR technology have raised concerns among officials in Washington.

“The scientific pursuit of biotechnology and medical innovation can save lives. Unfortunately, the PRC is choosing to use these technologies to pursue control over its people and its repression of members of ethnic and religious minority groups. We cannot allow U.S. commodities, technologies, and software that support medical science and biotechnical innovation to be diverted toward uses contrary to U.S. national security,” U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gina M. Raimondo said in a statement on Thursday.

The U.S. and other Western countries have reprimanded Beijing time and again over its treatment of Uyghurs and other ethnic minorities. It is estimated that more than 1 million people have been detained in labor camps and subjected to various forms of physical and mental abuse. 

Sanctions were also imposed by the Treasury Department on eight Chinese tech firms later on Thursday, alleging them of encouraging the use of “biometric surveillance” and technology to monitor ethnic and religious minorities in China.

The entities accused by the Treasury Department include: Leon Technology Company, Dawning Information Industry, SZ DJI Technology, Yitu, Dawning Information Industry, Xiamen Meiya Pico Information, Cloudwalk Technology, and Megvii Technology. The companies are also suspected to have links with the Chinese military.

Four other Chinese companies were added by the Commerce Department to its “Entity List” for playing a part in modernizing the Chinese military, which is against U.S. national security and foreign policy interests. The department also included five other Chinese companies for supposedly “acquiring or attempting to acquire technology from the United States to help modernize the People’s Liberation Army.”

The Entity List was set up to limit exports, reexports, and in-country transfer of items that are reliant on U.S. Export Administration Regulations (EAR) to entities or individuals that pose a threat to American foreign policy and national security interests. 

Overall, 34 Chinese companies have been blacklisted. Apart from the Chinese companies, entities from Turkey, Georgia, and Malaysia were also added to the blacklist by the Commerce Department for allegedly “diverting or attempting to divert U.S. items to Iran’s military programs.”

“Specifically, these entities are a part of a network used to supply or attempt to supply Iran with U.S-origin items that would ultimately provide material support to Iran’s defense industries, in violation of U.S. export controls,” the notice read.

The development comes weeks after the White House announced that it will not be sending any official representative to the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics citing the genocide and crimes against humanity committed by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) in Xinjiang.