The Trump administration, which has been branded as “anti-Muslim” by critics from the first few days of Donald Trump’s presidency, took a significant step this week in defense of Muslims in China.
On Monday, the U.S. Commerce Department announced that it has imposed a trade blacklist on 20 Chinese public security bureaus and eight surveillance-related tech companies for their role 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 a press release Monday, the Commerce Department announced that the Bureau of Industry and Security of the Department of Commerce is adding 28 Chinese governmental and commercial organizations to its blacklist “for engaging in or enabling activities contrary to the foreign policy interests of the United States.”
“This action constricts the export of items subject to the Export Administration Regulations (EAR) to entities that have been implicated in human rights violations and abuses in China’s campaign targeting Uighurs and other predominantly Muslim ethnic minorities in the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region (XUAR),” the release explains.
“The U.S. Government and Department of Commerce cannot and will not tolerate the brutal suppression of ethnic minorities within China,” Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross said in a statement. “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.”
As reported by Politico Monday, the United Nations says that the Chinese Communist Party has “placed more than 1 million Uighur Muslims in internment camps.”
“The additions include the XUAR People’s Government Public Security Bureau, 19 subordinate elements, and eight commercial entities,” the release details. “Located in XUAR and throughout China, these entities have all been implicated in the implementation of China’s campaign of repression, mass arbitrary detention, and high-technology surveillance.”
Citing Section 744.11(b) of the EAR, the press release notes that the Entity List “identifies persons or organizations reasonably believed to be involved, or to pose a significant risk of being or becoming involved, in activities contrary to the national security or foreign policy interests of the United States.”
In response to the administration’s actions, China blasted the U.S. for meddling in its affairs and vowed to continue to defend its sovereignty.
Reuters provides a brief profile of a few of the companies included in the “potentially crippling” blacklist:
Hikvision, with a market value of about $42 billion, calls itself the world’s largest maker of video surveillance gear.
SenseTime, valued at around $4.5 billion in a May 2018 fundraising, is one of the world’s most valuable AI unicorns while Megvii, backed by e-commerce giant Alibaba, is valued at around $4 billion and is preparing an IPO to raise at least $500 million in Hong Kong.
The other companies on the list are speech recognition firm iFlytek Co, surveillance equipment maker Zhejiang Dahua Technology, data recovery firm Xiamen Meiya Pico Information Co, facial recognition firm Yitu Technology and Yixin Science and Technology Co.
The administration’s action was reportedly months in the making and comes amid continued trade talks between Trump and the Chinese government, with the U.S. planning to impose hundred of billions in tariffs on Chinese imports this month.
The Trump administration was almost immediately branded as “anti-Muslim” as a result of the so-called “Muslim travel ban,” Executive Order 13769 (“Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States”), issued on January 27, 2017, just days after Trump’s inauguration.
The so-called “Muslim ban” lowered the cap on the number of refugees to be admitted for the year to 50,000, suspended the refugee program for four months for review, and blocked admission of refugees from seven terror-risk countries: Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen (countries likewise listed as high-risk by the Obama administration). After severe backlash for supposedly “targeting Muslims,” the short-lived order was superseded two months later by Executive Order 13780.