The United States imposed investment and export restrictions on dozens of Chinese companies on Thursday, accusing the companies of complicity in the suppression of the Uighur minority or aiding the military.
The US Treasury has accused major drone maker DJI and seven other technology companies of aiding in “biometric monitoring and tracing” of Uyghurs, adding them to a list of entities suspected of having ties to the Chinese military, which prevents Americans from trading in their securities.
Separately, the Commerce Department added China’s Academy of Military Medical Sciences and its 11 research institutes to a trade blacklist, restricting access to U.S. exports.
It said the academy uses biotechnology for military uses, including “purported brain-control weaponry”, without defining the technology further. The term was used by the academy’s president in a 2015 Chinese military newspaper article outlining future warfare, to describe “equipment that interferes with and controls human consciousness” during combat.
The department also added HMN International, formerly Huawei Marine, Jiangsu Hengtong Marine Cable Systems, Jiangsu Hengtong OpticElectric, Shanghai Aoshi Control Technology Co, Ltd, and Zhongtian Technology Submarine Cable (600522.SS) to the list over U.S. allegations of acquiring, or attempting to acquire, technology from the United States to help modernize the People’s Liberation Army.
The Chinese embassy in Washington called the actions “unwarranted suppression” that violated free trade rules, adding that Beijing would take “all essential measures” to uphold the interests of Chinese companies and research institutions.
Estimates by United Nations experts and rights groups indicate that more than one million people, mainly Uyghurs and members of other Muslim minorities, have been detained in recent years in a huge network of camps in Xinjiang, in the far west of China.
China denies the existence of human rights violations in the region and has rejected US “interference” in its affairs, and pledged to protect Chinese companies from US sanctions.
On Thursday, the US Senate also approved a bill to “prevent forced labor of the Uyghurs”. The legislation was referred to the White House, where President Joe Biden said he would sign it into law. The House of Representatives approved the bill unanimously on Tuesday.
The bill bans imports from Xinjiang over fears of forced labour, and is part of an ongoing campaign by Washington against Beijing’s treatment of the Muslim Uighur minority.