The US has blacklisted 28 Chinese organisations for their alleged involvement in abuses against ethnic Uighurs in China’s Xinjiang province.
The organisations are now on the so-called Entity List, which bars them from buying products from US companies without approval from Washington.
The 28 targets include both government agencies and technology companies specialising in surveillance equipment. The blacklist effectively bars US firms from selling technology to Chinese companies without government approval.
Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross announced the move, which bars the named entities from purchasing US products, saying the United States “cannot and will not tolerate the brutal suppression of ethnic minorities within China.”
The blacklist seeks to put the group of Chinese tech companies that develop facial recognition and other artificial intelligence technology on a so-called Entity List for acting contrary to American foreign policy interests.
According to an update to the US Federal Register set to be published Wednesday, the blacklisted firms included Xinjiang province’s Public Security Bureau, video surveillance company Hikvision, as well as artificial intelligence companies Megvii Technology, iFlytek and SenseTime.
Rights groups say China has detained around one million Uyghurs and other Muslims in re-education camps in the western Xinjiang region in a step Washington says is reminiscent of Nazi Germany.
China had until recently denied the camps existed but now claims they are “vocational training schools” necessary to control terrorism while decrying interference in its “internal affairs.”