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US-China tensions

US adds 14 Chinese companies to trade blacklist over Xinjiang

Entities in Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan and Pakistan also included

Workers walk by the perimeter fence of what is officially known as a vocational skills education center in China's Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region.   © Reuters

NEW YORK -- The U.S. has added 14 companies based in China to its economic blacklist for being involved in the surveillance and detention of Muslims in the Xinjiang region, according to the Department of Commerce on Friday.

"The Department of Commerce remains firmly 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," Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo said in a statement.

The "Entity List" is reserved for people, organizations, and companies that the U.S. has reason to believe "have been involved, are involved, or pose a significant risk of being or becoming involved in activities contrary to the national security or foreign policy interests of the United States," according to the Federal Register notice from the Commerce Department's Bureau of Industry and Security.

Raimondo's statement singled out the 14 companies based in China for having "enabled Beijing's campaign of repression, mass detention, and high-technology surveillance" against Muslims in the Xinjiang region, including a video surveillance company on the list under additional addresses in Pakistan, Singapore, and South Korea.

Beijing denies the alleged abuses.

The U.S. has escalated its pressure on China over its policies in Xinjiang. In the final days of the Trump administration, former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo officially declared a genocide in Xinjiang, and in March the Biden administration affirmed this position in a human rights report. In April, Secretary of State Antony Blinken urged American companies not to conduct business in Xinjiang.

Nine other Chinese entities were added to the list for reasons unrelated to Xinjiang, including a data storage company with an alternative address in Taiwan "for attempting to acquire U.S.-origin items in support of military modernization" for China's People's Liberation Army.

The 34 entities were filed under 43 entries due to cross-listings under different addresses. Entities from Canada, Iran, Lebanon, the Netherlands, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates, and the U.K. were also added to the list. 

Reporting by Jack Stone Truitt in New York.

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