US blacklists 8 more Chinese companies, including drone maker DJI

The Biden administration will put eight Chinese companies including DJI, the world’s largest maker of commercial drones, on an investment blacklist for allegedly engaging in surveillance of the Uighur Muslim minority. Er.

The US Treasury Department will blacklist DJI and other companies of “Chinese military-industrial complex companies” on Thursday, according to two people briefed on the move. American investors are prohibited from accepting financial shares in the 60 Chinese groups already on the blacklist.

This measure marks the latest attempt by US President Joe Biden to punish China for oppression of the Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities in the northwestern region of Xinjiang.

Last week, SenseTime, a facial recognition software company, postpone scheduled for initial public offering in Hong Kong after Financial Times report that the United States has blacklisted the company.

Other Chinese companies to be sanctioned on Thursday include Megvii, SenseTime’s main rival last year. plan pause to list in Hong Kong after it was placed on a separate US blacklist, and Dawning Information Industry, a supercomputer manufacturer that operates cloud computing services in Xinjiang.

CloudWalk Technology, a facial recognition software company, Xiamen Meiya Pico, a cybersecurity team working with law enforcement, Yitu . Technology, an artificial intelligence company, Leon Technology, a cloud computing company, and NetPosa Technologies, a maker of cloud-based surveillance systems, will also be added to the CMIC blacklist.

DJI and Megvii are not publicly traded, but Dawning Information, also known as Sugon, is listed in Shanghai and trades Leon, NetPosa and Meiya Pico in Shenzhen.

All eight companies are present on “entity list”, which restricts US companies from exporting technology or products from the US to Chinese groups without a government license.

The White House did not comment and the Treasury did not respond to a request for comment.

DJI declined to comment. But last year it said it had “done nothing to justify being shortlisted” after it was added blacklisted exports by the commerce department at the end of former president Donald Trump’s term.

The commerce ministry is also expected to put more than two dozen Chinese companies on the entity list on Thursday, including several related to biotechnology, according to people familiar with the pending action. . Commerce did not respond to a request for comment.

The sanctions action comes as the United States maintains a tough stance on China’s policies in Xinjiang, where more than 1 million Uighurs and other ethnic minorities have been detained in detention centers. detention. The White House last week announced a diplomatic boycott of the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing.

The Biden administration on Thursday will also consider tightening regulations for American companies that sell technology to Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corp, China’s largest chipmaker. Trump Administration put SMIC in entity list a year ago, but the decision included a provision that critics said created a vulnerability that some companies had exploited.

Eric Sayers, head of Indo-Pacific at consulting firm Beacon Global Strategies, said: Biden has moved into the implementation phase after reviewing many of its predecessor’s technology policies.

“It will be interesting to see if these targeted but important steps are just the beginning of a more aggressive approach promoted by the White House or the bare minimum that interagency can do,” Sayers said. muster at the moment,” Sayers said. “If that’s the former, we could see further restrictions on SMICs and new outbound investment restrictions in the coming months.”

In another example of Washington’s escalating confrontation with Beijing over Xinjiang, the US House of Representatives unanimously passed a bill on Tuesday. ban import from the region unless the companies can prove the goods are not produced with forced labor.

The House and Senate earlier reached an agreement on a compromise draft of the bill, setting the stage for a vote in the upper house of Congress before senators take a break for the year-end vacation. .

The White House welcomes the agreement on the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act.

Sophie Richardson, China director at Human Rights Watch, called on Biden to sign the legislation after it was passed “immediately” by Congress.

“Beijing and businesses have long moved toward a global willingness to put profits above human rights – even in the face of crimes against humanity,” said Richardson. “Congress rightly transferred the burden of proof to the Xinjiang government and to the companies.”

Jewher Ilham, an activist whose father Ilham Tohti, a Uighur rights advocate who has been jailed for life by China for much of his criticism of secession, said it was “promising” that Congress had reached an agreement to force companies “to responsible for their complicity in the world’s worst forced labor regime.”

Monitor Demetri Sevastopulo on Twitter

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