The United States has blacklisted 28 Chinese organizations for their alleged involvement in 'human rights violations and abuses' against Uyghurs and other mostly Muslim ethnic groups in China's far western region of Xinjiang.
The Department of Commerce on October 7 said the entities were now on the so-called Entity List, which bars them from buying products from U.S. companies without U.S. government approval.
The filing said the listed groups have been implicated in 'China's campaign of repression, mass arbitrary detention, and high-technology surveillance against [Uyghurs], Kazakhs, and other members of Muslim minority groups.'
The targeted organizations include 20 Chinese public-security bureaus and eight companies such as video-surveillance firm Hikvision, as well as leaders in facial-recognition technology Sense Time and Megvii Technology.
The move is expected to draw a sharp response from Beijing, which has been increasingly criticized by the international community over its policies in Xinjiang.
UN experts and rights groups say at least 1 million Uyghurs, and members of other largely Muslim minority groups, have been detained in camps in the remote region. Beijing insists the detention sites are 'vocational' centers aimed at training and skills development.
Last month, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that 'China's repressive campaign in Xinjiang is not about terrorism. It's about China's attempt to erase its own citizens.'
Pompeo made the remarks on September 22 during a meeting in New York with the foreign ministers of the five Central Asian countries -- Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan -- on the sidelines of the annual UN General Assembly.
It is not the first time the administration of President Donald Trump has put Chinese companies under a trade ban. Telecom giant Huawei was added to the Entity List in May due to security fears over its products.
The world's two biggest economies are currently in the midst of a trade war, having exchanged punitive tariffs.
With reporting by the BBC, dpa, AP, AFP, and Reuters
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