The Commerce Department has unveiled sanctions against 11 Chinese companies over concerns that the firms were assisting China’s government with the oppression of Uighur minorities in the northwestern Xinjiang province.
The companies represent a diverse range of businesses, with clothing and technology manufacturers targeted alongside other high-tech firms involved with gene sequencing, and all are accused of using forced labor in the Xinjiang province where thousands of Uighur Muslims are thought to be held in detention camps, which China frequently denies.
“Beijing actively promotes the reprehensible practice of forced labor and abusive DNA collection and analysis schemes to repress its citizens,” Secretary of Commerce Wilbur RossWilbur Louis RossCommerce Secretary Wilbur Ross hospitalized: reports Hillicon Valley: Lawmakers zero in on Twitter after massive hack | US, UK, Canada allege Russian hackers targeted COVID-19 vaccine researchers | Top EU court rules data transfer deal with the US is illegal Top EU court rules data transfer deal with US is invalid MORE said in a statement. “This action will ensure that our goods and technologies are not used in the Chinese Communist Party’s despicable offensive against defenseless Muslim minority populations.”
China’s foreign ministry fired back in a statement Tuesday obtained by The Associated Press, accusing the Trump administration of attempting to sabotage Chinese industries without evidence of the firms’ alleged crimes.
“What the United States is concerned about is not the human rights issues at all, but to suppress Chinese companies, undermine the stability of Xinjiang, and smear China’s Xinjiang policies,” said spokesperson Wang Wenbin, according to the AP. “We urge the United States to correct its mistakes, revoke relevant decisions and stop interfering in China’s internal affairs.”
Wang went on to promise that Beijing would “take all necessary measures” to protect China and Chinese business, according to the AP.
China’s government previously moved to sanction several U.S. lawmakers after a previous round of U.S. punitive measures targeted senior Chinese officials over alleged human rights abuses.