US blacklists China organisations over Xinjiang ‘Uighur abuse’

The US has blacklisted 28 Chinese organisations for their alleged involvement in abuses against ethnic Uighurs in China's Xinjiang province.

The organisations are now on the so-called Entity List, which bars them from buying products from US companies without approval from Washington.

The 28 targets include both government agencies and technology companies specialising in surveillance equipment.

It is not the first time the US has put Chinese groups under a trade ban.

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

A Commerce Department filing said the organisations are "implicated in human rights violations and abuses".

Rights groups say Beijing is severely persecuting the mostly Muslim Uighurs in detention camps. China calls these "vocational training centres" to combat extremism.

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Who has the US said?

The Commerce Department said in its decision on Monday that these 28 entities 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."

Xinjiang province's Public Security Bureau is on the list, along with 19 other smaller government agencies.

Hikvision, Dahua Technology and Megvii Technology are among eight commercial groups on the list, all of which specialise in facial-recognition technology. Hikvision is one of the largest surveillance equipment manufacturers in the world.

The US and China are currently in the midst of a trade war, and have sent delegations to Washington for a meeting about the tensions later this week.

Targeting China's AI stars

By Karishma Vaswani, BBC Asia Business correspondent

This move by the US will no doubt hurt China's technology ambitions, at least in the short term.

The companies targeted are some of China's biggest tech stars in artificial intelligence – the industry China is staking its future on.

But the components used in AI algorithm training are currently only made by American firms like Intel, Movidius and Nvidia.

Increasingly, though, the US's moves to limit American tech to Chinese companies is prompting China Inc to accelerate its desire for self-sufficiency.

For instant after Huawei was placed on the US entity list earlier this year – which meant that companies like Google would need to get an export license from Washington before selling to it- the Chinese company said it would start developing its own operating software to embed on its phones.

Chinese alternatives to other US technology are also being developed.

As the US and China's trade war turns increasingly into a battle over technology, consumers will eventually have to choose between all-Chinese and all-American products.

What is the situation in Xinjiang?

China says people in Xinjiang are attending "vocational training centres" designed to combat extremism.

But human rights groups and the UN say China is holding up to one million Uighurs and other Muslims in detention camps.

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