China indirectly signalled that it won’t sit calmly and will hit back after the Trump administration blacklisted the top eight technology giant of the Country over so-called human rights violations against Muslim minorities.
Foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang told reporters “stay tuned” when he was asked whether China will reciprocate over the blacklisting of the technology firms. He also denied that the government had violated human rights in the far west region of Xinjiang.
Geng said in Beijing “We urge the US side to immediately correct its mistake, withdraw the relevant decision and stop interfering in China’s internal affairs. China will continue to take firm and forceful measures to resolutely safeguard national sovereignty, security and development interests.”
The move by the Trump administration, which was announced after the closure of US markets, came on the same day that negotiators from both sides began working preparations for high-level talks that will begin on Thursday in Washington.
A US Commerce Department spokesman said “the action is unrelated to the trade negotiations, and China confirmed Vice Premier Liu He would lead the delegation as planned”.
The blacklist is still taking President Donald Trump’s anti-Chinese economic war in a new direction, marking the first time his administration has called human rights a cause for action. Previous moves to blacklisted companies like Huawei Technologies have been made for national security reasons.
Companies that are Blacklisted
The companies that are blacklisted are Hangzhou Hikvision Digital Technology and Zhejiang Dahua Technology which are the video surveillance companies. They control around a third of the global market for video surveillance and have cameras across the world.
Among them, SenseTime Group was also included. It is the most valuable artificial intelligence startup in the world. Other company is AI giant Megvii Technology, which is on the verge to aim around $1 billion (approximately Rs. 7,100 crores) in a Hong Kong initial public offering.
Also targeted is Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba Group Holding but the AI giant companies mentioned above are the major part in dominating AI in China in coming years.
Companies that are blacklisted are not allowed to do business with American companies until and unless they get a US government license but still some US companies are aligned with banned companies via international subsidiaries and are maintaining strong relationship.
The US Commerce Department said in a federal register notice “Specifically, these 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 in Xinjiang”.
The foreign ministry’s Geng accused the US of having “sinister intentions”. He said “The measures taken by China to eliminate extremism from the roots are fully in line with Chinese law and international practice”.
SenseTime and Dahua were not available for comment outside of normal business hours.
The company said in a statement “Hikvision strongly opposes today’s decision by the US government and it will hamper efforts by global companies to improve human rights around the world. Punishing Hikvision, despite these engagements, will deter global companies from communicating with the US government, hurt Hikvision’s US businesses partners and negatively impact the US economy.”
Megvii said “the US had no grounds” to put them on the list, and also noted that Human Rights Watch has corrected a report that implicated the company.
He added that from Xinjiang, it did not generate any revenue in the first half of the year and the impact of the designation on its company was minimal.
Trump took this big decision of blacklisting companies because he is facing a pressure at home to support anti-democratic protests in Hong Kong’s Chinese-controlled territory. On Monday, Trump said he was hoping for a “humane solution” in a city where protests were becoming increasingly violent.
This big steps has targeted Chinese surveillance companies that are involved in the crackdown in Xinjiang, where more than a million Uighur Muslims have been placed in mass detention camps, prompting criticism from across the world.
In May, the surveillance technology companies that were accused of human rights violations were about to get the sanctions package by White House but it was halted because of the trade negotiations.
In June, the Trump administration again decided to bring out the sanctions and planned to roll them out with a human rights speech that would be given by Vice President Mike Pence on the anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre. But the speech was postponed indefinitely, so that Trump could have a meeting with Chinese leader Xi Jinping in Osaka, Japan.
Also to be placed on the Commerce Department’s “entity list” are the Xinjiang region’s public security bureau and 18 other municipal and county public security bureaus as well as the province’s police college.
Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross said in a statement “The US government and the Department of Commerce cannot and will not tolerate the brutal suppression of ethnic minorities within China. This action will ensure that our technologies, fostered in an environment of individual liberty and free enterprise, are not used to repress defenseless minority populations.”