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U.S. imposes visa restrictions on Chinese officials over Muslim treatment

U.S. imposes visa restrictions on Chinese officials over Muslim treatment”

But the decision is likely to rankle the Chinese government, which has helped support some of these companies as they have developed into cutting-edge technology firms.

"[We hope] they will draw a line in one of China's most egregious human rights violations of the last decade and say, 'This is unacceptable behavior-we're going to pull levers that can potentially affect the behavior of officials and companies in the region to try to end the human rights crisis'".

The decision, which drew a sharp rebuke from Beijing, targets 20 Chinese public security bureaus and eight companies including video surveillance firm Hikvision, as well as leaders in facial recognition technology SenseTime Group Ltd and Megvii Technology Ltd.

Chinese tech companies on Tuesday voiced their strong opposition to the U.S. government's decision to add them to a trade blacklist over perceived human rights violations against predominantly ethnic minorities, saying that such a move will hurt USA suppliers and hamper global efforts to improve human rights around the world.

"The US Government and Department of Commerce can not and will not tolerate the brutal suppression of ethnic minorities within China", US Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross said on Monday. Yitu said it will "remain in communication with the USA government". At the same time, China signaled that its officials may not be willing to sign the broad trade deal sought by the Trump administration, Bloomberg News reports.

Hikvision said October 7 it respects human rights and opposes the Trump administration's decision.

"Punishing Hikvision. will deter global companies from communicating with the USA government, hurt Hikvision's United States businesses partners and negatively impact the U.S. economy", the spokesperson said.

The Chinese video surveillance company Hikvision, the Xinjiang Government's Public Security Bureau and 19 subordinate government agencies were added to the list, according to a Commerce Department filing.

The Commerce Department statement alleged the entities are involved in a government campaign targeting Muslim ethnic minorities in Xinjiang.

"There aren't what the US calls "human rights issues" in Xinjiang and the related accusations are nothing but an excuse to intervene in China's domestic politics", CCTV quoted Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson Geng Shuang as saying. "The Chinese side strongly deplores and opposes it".

Hikvision, with a market value of about $42 billion, receives almost RMB 15 billion (around $2.1 billion) in revenue, or 30% of its total revenue, from overseas.

Companies on the list are prohibited from doing business with U.S. suppliers without a special government licence. In May, telecom giant Huawei was placed on the blacklist in May for allegedly breaking USA sanctions on Iran.

You may recall that the recent hack discovered for iOS devices was specifically aimed at these religious groups and is widely suspected to be the work of the Chinese government.

Ross said Monday's action will ensure US technologies "are not used to repress defenseless minority populations".

China has long considered XUAR a breeding ground for "separatists, terrorists and religious extremists", with the residents of the region - ethnically Turkic Muslims - the subject of persecution and heightened surveillance. The detentions come on top of harsh travel restrictions and a massive surveillance network equipped with facial recognition technology.



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