Uyghur 'human rights violations' prompt U.S. to blacklist 28 Chinese security companies

Right groups say China has detained around one million Uighurs and other Muslims in re-education camps in western Xinjiang regionMore

Washington has also imposed bans on 20 government agencies that are involved in the mass surveillance project in western Xinjiang province, where human rights agencies and the United Nations say more than a million Uighurs and members of other ethnic minorities have been rounded up in vast detention camps.

The 28 entities blacklisted include 18 public security bureaus in Xinjiang, one police college and eight businesses.

They included listed-firms like iFlytek, Hikvision, Dahua Technology and Xiamen Meiya Pico.

However, the Commerce Department did not state specifically the actions that led to the companies getting added to the Entity List, beyond that their activities are "contrary to the national security or foreign policy interests of the U.S.".

US Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross announced the move to bar the entities on Monday, saying his country "cannot and will not tolerate the brutal suppression of ethnic minorities within China".

"While highly symbolic, the Commerce Department's action is unlikely to have a major practical impact on the Chinese firms, which rely on plenty of non-U.S. suppliers and have had months of advance warning to diversify their supply chains away from US companies", the WSJ said.

Right groups say China has detained around one million Uighurs and other Muslims in re-education camps in the region, actions that Washington has said are reminiscent of Nazi Germany.

"All of our core technologies are self-developed and therefore the US entity list will not have any major impact on the company's day-to-day operations", voice recognition company Iflytek, one of the 28 newly blacklisted entities, said. Other firms such as Yixin Science and Technology, SenseTime and Megvii, which have raised several billions of dollars in the capital market, were also on the list.

Several of the blacklisted firms issued statements slamming the decision.

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"Hikvision strongly opposes today's decision by the US government and it will hamper efforts by global companies to improve human rights around the world", the company said in a statement.

In April, a bipartisan group of US lawmakers urged the move against Chinese companies it called "complicit in human rights abuses" and specifically cited Hikvision and Dahua. Yitu said it will "remain in communication with the US government".

Megvii said Tuesday there are "no grounds" for including the company in the blacklist. USA supplier Ambarella fell 12 per cent in after-hours trading.

This isn't the first time the Trump administration has slapped a major Chinese company with a ban.

China's commerce ministry did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment.

Hikvision, China's biggest video surveillance system provider, "strongly opposed" the decision.

The Department's decision to put the firms to its "entity list" alongside telecommunications giant Huawei TechnologiesCo., which was added in May, means suppliers will be barred from providing technology that originates in the U.S. to the Chinese firms without a license.

"This action will ensure that our technologies, fostered in an environment of individual liberty and free enterprise, are not used to repress defenceless minority populations".

Huawei has repeatedly denied the allegations and has filed a lawsuit against the United States government's restrictions.

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