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USA govt. widens trade blacklist to include eight Chinese artificial intelligence companies due to concerns on treatment of Muslim minorities

“U.S. expands blacklist to include China's top AI startups ahead of trade talks”, 8 Oct 2019

The U.S. government widened its trade blacklist to include some of China’s top artificial intelligence startups, punishing Beijing for its treatment of Muslim minorities…

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.

The action bars the firms from buying components from U.S. companies without U.S. government approval…

The Commerce Department said in a filing the “entities have been implicated in human rights violations and abuses in the implementation of China’s campaign of repression, mass arbitrary detention, and high-technology surveillance against Uighurs, Kazakhs, and other members of Muslim minority groups.”

“The U.S. Government and Department of Commerce cannot and will not tolerate the brutal suppression of ethnic minorities within China,” said Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross.

China said the United States should stop interfering in its affairs. It will continue to take firm and resolute measures to protect its sovereign security, foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang told a regular media briefing without elaborating…

The other companies on the list are speech recognition firm iFlytek Co, surveillance equipment maker Zhejiang Dahua Technology, data recovery firm Xiamen Meiya Pico Information Co, facial recognition firm Yitu Technology and Yixin Science and Technology Co.

A U.S. Hikvision spokesman said the company “strongly opposes” the decision and noted that in January it retained a human rights expert and former U.S. ambassador to advise the company on human rights compliance.

“Punishing Hikvision, despite these engagements, will deter global companies from communicating with the U.S. government, hurt Hikvision’s U.S. businesses partners and negatively impact the U.S. economy,” the company added…

SenseTime said in a statement it was deeply disappointed by the U.S. move, that it abides by all relevant laws of the jurisdictions in which its operates and that it has been actively developing an AI code of ethics to ensure its technologies are used responsibly.

Megvii said it strongly objected to being placed on the blacklist and that it required its clients not to weaponize its technology or use it for illegal purposes.

IFlytek said its placement on the blacklist would not affect its daily operations, while Xiamen Meiya said its overseas revenue was less than 1% of total revenue and that most of its suppliers were domestic companies…

In August, the Trump administration also released an interim rule banning federal purchases of telecommunications equipment from five Chinese companies, including Huawei and Hikvision.

Huawei has repeatedly denied it is controlled by the Chinese government, military or intelligence services and has filed a lawsuit against the U.S. government’s restrictions.

[Also referred to IPVM , Intel Corp, Nvidia Corp, Ambarella Inc, Western Digital and Seagate Technology]

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