US blacklists 11 more firms over China’s treatment of Uyghurs

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For the third time around, another 11 Chinese companies were added to the US Commerce Department’s economic blacklist on Monday after they were implicated in human rights violations of Uyghurs in China’s western Xinjiang region.

The move will leave the 11 firms unable to buy components from US companies without US government approval.

The blacklisting prompted an accusation of slander from China, which vowed to take measures to protect its companies’ rights.

The Commerce Department said the companies were involved in using forced labour by Uyghurs and other Muslim minority groups.

Among them are numerous textile companies and two firms the government said were conducting genetic analyses used to further the repression of Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities.

It was the third group of companies and institutions in China added to the US blacklist after the Trump administration previously cited 37 entities it said were involved in China’s repression in Xinjiang.

“Beijing actively promotes the reprehensible practice of forced labour and abusive DNA collection and analysis schemes to repress its citizens,” Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said in a statement.

In Beijing, a foreign ministry spokesman said the United States was trying to oppress Chinese companies and slander China’s policies in Xinjiang under the pretext of protecting human rights.

“We urge the U.S. to correct its mistakes,” Wang Wenbin told a news conference on Tuesday, adding that China would take all necessary measures to protect its companies’ legitimate rights.

The companies added to the blacklist include Nanchang O-Film Tech, a supplier for Apple’s iPhone that hosted Apple chief executive Tim Cook in December 2017, according to O-Film’s website. It is also a supplier to Amazon.com Inc and Microsoft, according to an April congressional letter.

The US companies did not immediately comment.

The list includes two subsidiaries of Beijing Genomics Institute (BGI), a genomics company with ties to the Chinese government, Senator Marco Rubio said.

Rubio said the additions will “ensure that US technology does not aid the Chinese Communist Party’s crimes against humanity and egregious human rights abuses against Uyghurs and other minorities in Xinjiang, including the forced collection of DNA.”

Also newly on the list are KTK Group Co, which makes more than 2,000 products for high-speed trains, ranging from electronics to seats.

KTK said in a statement it had no investments in the United States and did not rely on US technology. It said its exports to the United States accounted for less than 0.5% of its total 2019 revenue.

Another blacklisted company is Changji Esquel Textile Co, which Esquel Group launched in 2009. Esquel Group produces clothing for Ralph Lauren, Tommy Hilfiger and Hugo Boss.

In a letter to Ross on Monday, Esquel Chief Executive John Cheh asked for the unit’s removal from the list. “Esquel does not use forced labour, and we never will use forced labour,” Cheh wrote.

Also on the banned roster is Hetian Haolin Hair Accessories Co. On May 01, US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) said it was halting imports of the company’s hair products, citing evidence of forced labour.

On July 01, CBP seized in Newark a shipment of almost 13 tons of hair products worth over US$800,000 with human hair that it said originated in Xinjiang.

The Commerce Department previously added 20 Chinese public security bureaus and companies including video surveillance firm Hikvision, as well as leaders in facial recognition technology Sense Time Group Ltd and Megvii Technology in connection with China’s treatment of Muslim minorities. (Source: Thomson Reuters Foundation)

 

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