US slaps sanctions on 33 Chinese companies and institutions, dialling up the tension amid the lowest point in US-China relations
- Two dozen companies and institutions including the tech giant Qihoo 360 Technology were placed on the first so-called entity list for “supporting procurement of items for military end-use in China”
- Nine entities were put on a second list for their alleged roles in rights violations in the Xinjiang region
The United States government has slapped sanctions on 33 Chinese companies and institutions, putting them on two so-called entity lists as it dials up the hostility during the lowest point in US-China relations in decades.
“The new additions to the Entity List demonstrate our commitment to preventing the use of US commodities and technologies in activities that undermine our interests,” US Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross said in a statement.
For many of these sanctioned firms and institutions, access to US technology and doing business with US companies are critical in their operations, and their inclusion in the entity list makes it difficult for them to receive export licenses for US software and hardware.
Washington’s latest initiative is likely to anger Beijing at a time when relations between the world’s two largest economies are already fraught with tensions over the US-China trade war, and now the anything but certain Chinese legislation that will outlaw secessionist and subversive activities as well as foreign interference and terrorism in Hong Kong.
The US, which has also been widely criticised for its human rights record especially under President Donald Trump, has until the end of May to assess whether Hong Kong remains suitably autonomous from China under the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act of 2019 – a condition for extending the city’s preferential trading and investment privileges with US businesses.
Other entities on the list include the Centre for High Pressure Science and Technology Advanced Research, the Harbin Engineering University, Harbin Institute of Technology, and the Peac Institute of Multiscale Science.
China’s treatment of Uygur Muslims is another sore point between Washington and Beijing. China is accused of massive activities in Xinjiang meant to eradicate the ethnic and cultural identity of Uygurs and other Muslim minorities. Beijing has denied the charge, saying the compulsory programmes at the re-education camps provide training for the Uygurs to find better jobs and stay away from the influence of radical fundamentalism.
The US House of Representatives is also set to vote on a measure approved by the Senate that will impose sanctions on Chinese officials over the treatment of the Uygurs. The second list comprises Cloudwalk Technology, FiberHome Technologies Group and unit Nanjing FiberHome Starrysky Communication Development, NetPosa and units SenseNets, Intellifusion, and IS’Vision.