The US Commerce Department stated that the organisation's blacklisted are implicated in "China's campaign of repression, mass arbitrary detention, and high-technology surveillance against Uighurs, Kazakhs, and other members of Muslim minority groups."

By Ian Horswill

Posted on October 8, 2019

US President Donald Trump’s administration has announced it has blacklisted 28 Chinese organisations for their alleged involvement in abuses against ethnic Uighurs in China’s Xinjiang province.

The action follows the US leading more than 30 countries condemning what it called China’s “horrific campaign of repression” against the Muslims at an event on the sidelines of the annual UN General Assembly early last month.

The 28 organisations, which includes the world’s major video surveillance company Hikvision, have been added to the Entity List, which bars them from buying products from US companies without approval from Washington. The organisations include both government agencies and eight businesses specialising in surveillance equipment.

A US Commerce Department filing said the 28 organisations are “implicated in human rights violations and abuses”, against the Uighurs, BBC News reported. They include the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region People’s Government Public Security Bureau, 19 subordinate government agencies and eight commercial firms, including some of China’s leading artificial intelligence firms SenseTime Group Ltd, and Megvii Technology Ltd, which is backed by Alibaba, together with Hikvision, formally known as Hangzhou Hikvision Digital Technology Co Ltd, Zhejiang Dahua Technology, IFLYTEK Co, Xiamen Meiya Pico Information Co and Yixin Science and Technology Co.

Megvii filed for an IPO this summer of at least US$500 million in Hong Kong, while SenseTime raised US $620 million in a second round of funding in just two months last year and is one of the world’s most valuable unicorns in artificial intelligence.

The Commerce Department stated that the organisations blacklisted are implicated in “China’s campaign of repression, mass arbitrary detention, and high-technology surveillance against Uighurs, Kazakhs, and other members of Muslim minority groups.”

The blacklisting comes before the resumption of trade talks between the US and China this week.

In May, the Trump administration added telecommunications giant Huawei to the Entity List because of security fears over its products.

Human rights groups say Beijing is severely persecuting the mostly Muslim Uighurs in detention camps. China counters that the “vocational training centres” combat extremism.

It is almost a year since the UN reported that an estimated one million people, mostly Muslim Uighurs, were being held in detention centres across Xinjiang and urged China to release them.

Even before the UN statement, there were regular reports that Uighurs were subject to extraordinary surveillance, required to give blood, DNA and biometric face scans, forced to hand over their passports, denied permission to leave Xinjiang and detained in huge numbers.

In highlighting abuses against ethnic Uighurs and other Muslims in China, US Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan said at the UN General Assembly that the United Nations and its member states had “a singular responsibility to speak up when survivor after survivor recounts the horrors of state repression.”

Sullivan spoke at an event co-sponsored by Canada, Germany, the Netherlands and the UK, and was joined by more than 30 UN states, representatives of the European Union and more than 20 nongovernmental organisations, including Uighurs themselves.

“We invite others to join the international effort to demand and compel an immediate end to China’s horrific campaign of repression,” he said. “History will judge the international community for how we respond to this attack on human rights and fundamental freedoms.”