Strategy

U.S. Cracks Down on Chinese Tech Firms

The Treasury Department added eight companies to an investment blacklist for supporting Beijing’s repression of the Uyghur minority.
Matthew HellerDecember 17, 2021

DJI drones

The Biden administration has slapped an investment ban on eight Chinese tech companies, citing their support for Beijing’s repression of the Uyghur minority.

The latest additions to a list of firms designated as owned or controlled by the Chinese military includes DJI, which is the largest maker of drones. Under a Trump-era executive order, Americans cannot trade in the securities of companies on the list.

The eight companies actively support the biometric surveillance and tracking of ethnic and religious minorities in China, particularly the predominantly Muslim Uyghur minority in Xinjiang, according to the Treasury Department.

“Today’s action highlights how private firms in China’s defense and surveillance technology sectors are actively cooperating with the government’s efforts to repress members of ethnic and religious minority groups,” Brian Nelson, Under Secretary of the Treasury for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence, said in a news release.

“Treasury remains committed to ensuring that the U.S. financial system and American investors are not supporting these activities,” he added.

In a related move, the Commerce Department added China’s Academy of Military Medical Sciences and its 11 research institutes to a trade blacklist, restricting access to U.S. exports.

Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondi said China was using biotechnology and medical innovation “to pursue control over its people and its repression of members of ethnic and religious minority groups.”

According to Axios, “The U.S. is cracking down aggressively on virtually any company — American or Chinese — believed to be complicit in the Chinese government’s genocide of Uyghur Muslims in the northwest region of Xinjiang.”

The U.S. had added DJI to the trade blacklist last year. The company “has provided drones to the Xinjiang Public Security Bureau, which are used to surveil Uyghurs in Xinjiang,” the Treasury Department said.

The seven other entities on Treasury’s list include Cloudwalk Technology, Dawning Information, Leon Technology, Megvii Technology, Netposa Technologies, Xiamen Meiya Information, and Yitu.

The Chinese embassy in Washington called the actions “unwarranted suppression” that violated free trade rules, adding that Beijing would take “all essential measures” to uphold the interests of Chinese companies and research institutions.

Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images