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US adds 11 companies to economic blacklist over China's treatment of Uighur

Flags of the United States and China are placed ahead of a meeting between U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue and his Chinese counterpart, Han Changfu, at the Ministry of Agriculture in Beijing on June 30, 2017. JASON LEE/AFP VIA GETTY IMAGES
2020-07-20

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SULAIMANI – The US Commerce Department on Monday added 11 Chinese companies implicated in what it called human rights violations in connection with China’s treatment of its Uighurs in Xinjiang in western China to the US economic blacklist.

The department said the companies were involved in using forced labor by Uighurs and other Muslim minority groups. They include numerous textile companies and two firms the government said were conducting genetic analyses used to further the repression of Uighurs and other Muslim minorities.

Blacklisted firms cannot buy components from US companies without US government approval.

It was the third group of companies and institutions in China added to the US blacklist, after two rounds in which the Trump administration cited 37 entities it said were involved in China’s repression in Xinjiang.

“Beijing actively promotes the reprehensible practice of forced labor and abusive DNA collection and analysis schemes to repress its citizens,” Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said in a statement.

The Chinese Embassy in Washington declined to comment.

In May the Chinese Foreign Ministry criticized US entity list additions arguing the United States “overstretched the concept of national security, abused export control measures, violated the basic norms governing international relations, interfered in China’s internal affairs.”

The companies added to the blacklist include KTK Group Co, which produces more than 2,000 products used to build high-speed trains, from electronics to seats; and Tanyuan Technology Co, which assembles high thermal conductive graphite reinforced aluminum composites.

Another company is Changji Esquel Textile Co, which Esquel Group launched in 2009. Esquel Group produces clothing for Ralph Lauren, Tommy Hilfiger and Hugo Boss. In April, Esquel denied it used forced labor in Xinjiang.

Also on the blacklist is Hetian Haolin Hair Accessories Co. On May 1, US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) said it was halting imports of the company’s hair products, citing evidence of forced labor.

On July 1, CBP seized in Newark a shipment of almost 13 tons of hair products worth over $800,000 with human hair that originated in Xinjiang.

Commerce previously added 20 Chinese public security bureaus and companies including video surveillance firm Hikvision, as well as leaders in facial recognition technology SenseTime Group Ltd and Megvii Technology in connection with China’s treatment of Muslim minorities.

Senator Josh Hawley, a Republican, has said he would introduce legislation that would penalize US companies which use forced labor in their supply chains.

(NRT Digital Media/ Reuters)