Uyghur Human Rights Project applauds U.S. sanctions against Chinese entities and officials complicit in human rights violations

For immediate release
October 8, 2019 5:15 pm EST
Contact: Uyghur Human Rights Project +1 (202) 478 1920

The Uyghur Human Rights Project (UHRP) supports the October 7, 2019 action by the U.S. Commerce Department to place 28 Chinese companies and government agencies complicit in human rights violations in East Turkestan on the Entities List. UHRP also endorses the U.S. Department of State’s October 8, 2019 decision to impose visa restrictions on Chinese government officials for their role in the repression.

Prohibiting U.S. companies from exporting technology to these companies and government entities without a license and denying Chinese officials U.S. visas represent the first concrete actions taken by any government in response to the human rights crisis in East Turkestan.

UHRP encourages other states to undertake similar actions to end the repression of Uyghurs and other Turkic peoples. 

“The development of technologies which can be used to repress fundamental freedoms should be a major concern to nations and individuals around the world. UHRP urges investment funds and research partners to divest from and cease working with these companies, and encourages other nations to take similar actions,” said UHRP Director Omer Kanat in a statement.

Mr. Kanat added: “The restrictions placed on Chinese officials sends a clear message to individuals complicit in human rights abuses. Their involvement in the Chinese Communist Party’s repression targeting Uyghurs has implications. This is merely the first step.”

The United States has placed the Xinjiang Public Security Bureau, 19 subordinate bureaus, and eight companies on the entities list because of their links to “China’s campaign of repression, mass arbitrary detention, and high-technology surveillance.” Furthermore, the U.S. Commerce Department noted their activities are “contrary to the foreign policy interests of the United States.”

Among these companies are Hikvision and Dahua, the largest and second largest video surveillance companies in the world, which have won over a billion dollars in contracts constructing the security state in East Turkestan, as well as inside the concentration camps.

Other companies on the list include face recognition  “unicorns,” SenseTime, Megviii, and Yitu, voice recognition startup iFlytek and digital forensics and data analytics companies Meiya Pico and Yixin, all of which are working to develop China’s security state. 

U.S. chips remain critical to the functioning of many of these systems, and ensuring that this technology is not used for further repression of the Uyghurs is a major first step in a global response to severe human rights abuses in East Turkestan. 

In announcing the visa restrictions, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pomeo said:

“The United States calls on the People’s Republic of China to immediately end its campaign of repression in Xinjiang, release all those arbitrarily detained, and cease efforts to coerce members of Chinese Muslim minority groups residing abroad to return to China to face an uncertain fate…The United States will continue to review its authorities to respond to these abuses.”

In a press release, Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross stated the U.S. government “cannot and will not tolerate the brutal suppression of ethnic minorities within China.” 

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