The United States Commerce Department said on Monday it would put 28 public security bureaus and companies in China – including video surveillance company Hikvision – on a US trade blacklist over Beijing’s treatment of Uighur Muslims and other predominantly Muslim ethnic minorities.
Those added to the so-called “Entity List” include the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region People’s Government Public Security Bureau, 19 subordinate government agencies and eight commercial firms, according to a Commerce Department filing.
The commercial companies include Zhejiang Dahua Technology, IFLYTEK Co, Xiamen Meiya Pico Information Co and Yixin Science and Technology Co.
The department filing said the “entities have been implicated in human rights violations and abuses in the implementation of China’s campaign of repression, mass arbitrary detention, and high-technology surveillance against Uighurs, Kazakhs, and other members of Muslim minority groups”.
The list includes municipal and county public security bureaus and the Xinjiang Police College.
US officials said the announcement was not at all tied to this week’s resumption of trade talks with China.
Being added to the “Entity List” bars companies or other entities from buying parts and components from US companies without approval from Washington.
The Commerce Department previously added Huawei Technologies Co and more than 100 affiliates to the Entity List.
‘Complicit in human rights abuses’
Hikvision, officially known as Hangzhou Hikvision Digital Technology Co Ltd, with a market value of about $42bn, calls itself the world’s largest video surveillance gear maker.
The company receives nearly 30 percent of its 50 billion yuan (seven billion dollars) in revenue from overseas, according to a report in August by Reuters News Agency.
Hikvision did not immediately comment on the Commerce Department’s move. The Chinese embassy in Washington also did not immediately comment.
In April, a bipartisan group of US legislators urged the move against Chinese companies it called “complicit in human rights abuses” and specifically cited Hikvision and Dahua.
China faces growing condemnation from Western capitals and rights groups for setting up facilities that United Nations experts describe as mass detention centres holding more than one million ethnic Uighurs and other Muslims.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said last week at the Vatican that “when the state rules absolutely, it demands its citizens worship government, not God. That’s why China has put more than one million Uighur Muslims … in internment camps and is why it throws Christian pastors in jail.”
John Honovich, founder of surveillance video research company IPVM, said Hikvision and Dahua both use Intel Corp, Nvidia Corp, Ambarella Inc, Western Digital and Seagate Technology as suppliers – and that the effect on the Chinese companies would be “devastating”.
Shares in Ambarella, a California-based semiconductor company, fell 12 percent in after-hours trading on the news.
In August, the Trump administration released an interim rule banning federal purchases of telecommunications equipment from five Chinese companies, including Huawei and Hikvision.
Huawei has repeatedly denied it is controlled by the Chinese government, military or intelligence services and has filed a lawsuit against the US government’s restrictions.