US adds 34 to entities blacklist, including 14 Chinese companies tied to abuse of Uyghurs

Kazakhs people, Xinjiang, China. (Bernard Gagnon/Wikimedia Commons)

This article was originally published by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and is reprinted with permission.

The United States has added 14 Chinese companies to its economic blacklist over alleged human rights abuses and surveillance of Uyghurs, Kazakhs, and other members of Muslim minority groups in China’s Xinjiang Province.

The 14 companies are among 34 entities, including some from Russia and Iran, added in the latest update to the so-called Entities List “for their involvement in, or risk of becoming involved in, activities contrary to the foreign policy and national security interests of the United States,” the U.S. Commerce Department said in a statement on July 9.

The Chinese companies added to the list enabled Beijing’s “campaign of repression, mass detention, and high-technology surveillance” in Xinjiang, the statement said, reiterating the U.S. allegation that China is committing “genocide” and “crimes against humanity” in its treatment of the Uyghurs.

China has been under international criticism and hit with sanctions for detaining more than 1 million Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities for political reeducation in the northwestern region of Xinjiang.

China insists the camps are “vocational education centers” aimed at helping people steer clear of terrorism.

“The Chinese side will take all necessary measures to safeguard the legitimate rights and interests of Chinese companies and rejects U.S. attempts to interfere in China’s internal affairs,” said Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said on July 9.

Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo said the department remains committed to taking “strong, decisive action to target entities that are enabling human rights abuses in Xinjiang or that use U.S. technology to fuel China’s destabilizing military modernization efforts.”

Five of the entities added directly support China’s military modernization programs related to lasers and battle management systems, the Commerce Department said.

Raimondo also said export controls would continue to be used to hold governments, companies, and individuals accountable “for attempting to access U.S.-origin items for subversive activities in countries like China, Iran, and Russia that threaten U.S. national security interests and are inconsistent with our values.”

The additions to the list also include eight entities for facilitating the export of U.S. items to Iran and six entities for involvement in the procurement of U.S.-origin electronic components that the department said was “likely in furtherance of Russian military programs.”

Entities added to the Commerce Department’s blacklist are required to apply for licenses and face tough scrutiny when they seek permission to receive items from U.S. suppliers.