US blacklists dozens of Chinese entities for surveillance and military work

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WASHINGTON – The Biden administration has added dozens of Chinese companies and research institutes to blacklists restricting access to US investment and technology for their alleged support for the Chinese military and mass surveillance mainly Muslim ethnic groups.

The Commerce and Treasury departments have targeted a range of Chinese companies, from a company that runs underwater fiber optic cables, to developers of facial recognition technologies, to the world’s largest commercial drone maker, DJI Technology Co. Commerce’s action also targeted the China Academy of Military Medical Sciences and a complex of research institutes under its control.

Control of critical technologies is at the forefront of the global rivalry between Washington and Beijing.

In total, more than 40 Chinese companies and other entities have been added to either the Commerce Department’s Entity List, which restricts access to U.S. exports, or a Treasury list prohibiting U.S. investment in supporting companies. Chinese army.

White House agencies and officials said the targets were engaged in actions hostile to U.S. interests, including helping China monitor and detain Uyghurs and other Muslim ethnic groups in the Xinjiang region.

“Today’s actions demonstrate the vigilance of the US government against the PRC’s misuse of US technology and investments that undermine US national security,” said Secretary of State Antony Blinken, referring to the People’s Republic of China, the country’s official name.

The Commerce Department said it is also restricting exports to some of the Chinese companies as well as other entities operating in Georgia, Malaysia and Turkey for the diversion or attempted diversion of U.S. items into Iranian missiles and other military programs.

The Chinese Foreign Ministry has criticized the blacklisting of Chinese companies, a spokesperson in Beijing on Thursday accusing the United States of exercising “an unjustified crackdown on Chinese companies”.

DJI declined to comment. Last year, when it was placed on the commerce entity list, the company said, “DJI did nothing to justify” the sanction.

The Biden administration has ramped up its actions against Chinese tech companies in recent weeks, although officials have sometimes differed on how to proceed.

At a multi-agency meeting Thursday, officials failed to agree on a Defense Ministry proposal to further restrict China’s largest semiconductor maker access to the technology. American chipmaker, according to people briefed at the meeting.

Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corp., known as SMIC, is already included on the list of business entities to restrict its access to US tools to produce smaller, advanced chips. But, the people said, the language of the list is not broad enough to be effective.

Officials from the State and Energy Departments, as well as the National Security Council, backed the Pentagon’s proposal to close the loophole while Commerce Department officials remained opposed, the people said. Instead, some officials have offered to continue talks with allies to see if they would agree to block their own companies from selling additional technology at minimum wage, people said.

Representatives from the Defense, State, Energy and Commerce departments did not immediately respond to requests for comment, and the National Security Council declined to comment. The SMIC did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

China’s biotechnology activities have been of particular concern to the Biden administration, officials said.

Thursday’s blacklist of the Chinese academy and its research institutes was due to their support for the Chinese military, including research into “alleged brain control weapons,” according to a Commerce Department statement. The Treasury Department also highlighted biometric monitoring in its blacklist of eight companies.

After locking up a million people in camps in Xinjiang, Chinese authorities are destroying Uyghur neighborhoods and purging the region’s culture. They say they are fighting terrorism. Their goal: to build a company that is loyal to Beijing. Photographic illustration: Sharon Shi. Video: Clément Bürge

“One of these companies has developed custom software that is supposed to recognize specific ethnic minorities, including Tibetans and Uighurs, and alert authorities when they find them,” Blinken said. “Another company produces software that includes a transcription and translation tool for the Uyghur language to enable authorities to search for criminal content on residents’ devices. “

The company that succeeded submarine cable company Huawei Marine Networks was also targeted on Thursday. which was acquired of Huawei Technologies Co. by Hengtong Group, as well as other subsidiaries of Hengtong. Hengtong did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The Biden administration has called China’s treatment of Uyghurs genocide and has already taken action against Beijing, which denies any mistreatment. Earlier this month, the United States announced that it would organize a diplomatic boycott of the upcoming 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing, meaning no officials would attend, although American athletes there. would always participate. Several other countries have announced similar boycotts. Mr Biden is expected to sign a law banning imports from Xinjiang over concerns over the use of forced labor.

Write to Alex Leary at [email protected] and Ian Talley at [email protected]

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