'Purported brain-control weaponry': US blacklists Chinese biotech firms over Uyghur surveillance

WION Web Team
Washington, United States Published: Dec 16, 2021, 08:36 PM(IST)

This combination of file pictures shows US President Joe Biden (L) and Chinese President Xi Jinping (R) Photograph:( AFP )

Story highlights

Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian told a news briefing, that Beijing was opposed to US 'suppression' of its companies

The United States has blacklisted Chinese biotech firms for trying to seek surveillance on the Uyghur minority.

Trade with the Academy of Military Medical Sciences and 11 of its research institutes has been restricted by the US Commerce Department over its biotechnology work including "purported brain-control weaponry."

According to Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo, "The scientific pursuit of biotechnology and medical innovation can save lives. Unfortunately, the PRC is choosing to use these technologies to pursue control over its people and its repression of members of ethnic and religious minority groups."

"We cannot allow US commodities, technologies and software that support medical science and biotechnical innovation to be diverted toward uses contrary to US national security," she said.

Also read | This is how Huawei is associated with China’s state surveillance

Shares in Chinese healthcare and technology firms tumbled and knocked 3.2 per cent off a mainland index tracking the sector against a drop of 0.87 per cent in the broader index.

In response, Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian told a news briefing, that Beijing was opposed to US "suppression" of its companies and would pay close attention to how the situation developed.

The new additions come just days after artificial intelligence start-up SenseTime Group was added to the Treasury list, forcing it to postpone its $767-million Hong Kong initial public offering (IPO).

Also read | Tribunal rules China committed genocide against Uyghurs, Jinping 'primarily' responsible

UN experts and rights groups estimate more than a million people, mainly Uyghurs and members of other Muslim minorities, have been detained in recent years in a vast system of camps in China's far western region of Xinjiang.

Some foreign lawmakers and parliaments have labelled the treatment of Uyghurs as genocide, citing evidence of forced sterilisations and deaths inside the camps. China denies this, saying Uyghur population growth exceeds the national average.

(With inputs from agencies)

Read in App