China is accusing the United States of trying to “suppress Chinese companies” after the US added 11 of them to an economic blacklist because of human rights abuses against Muslim minorities.
- It is the third group of Chinese companies and institutions added to the US blacklist.
- The US believes some Chinese companies are using forced labour by Muslim minorities, including Uyghurs
- Blacklisted firms cannot buy US-produced goods without US Government approval
This comes after alleged human rights violations in connection with the treatment of Uyghurs in Xinjiang in western China.
China firmly opposed the punitive measures taken by the US on Monday and said it would take all necessary measures to ensure the legitimate rights of Chinese firms.
Blacklisted firms cannot buy components from US companies without government approval.
Foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said the US was trying to oppress Chinese companies and slander China’s policies in Xinjiang under the pretext of protecting human rights.
“What the United States is concerned about is not the human rights issues at all, but to suppress Chinese companies, undermine the stability of Xinjiang, and smear China’s Xinjiang policies,” Mr Wang said.
“We urge the US to correct its mistakes.”
The US Commerce Department said the Chinese companies were using forced labour by Uyghurs and other Muslim minority groups.
It is the third group of Chinese companies and institutions added to the US blacklist.
The Trump administration previously cited 37 entities it said were involved in China’s repression in Xinjiang.
They included Chinese textile manufacturers and two companies the US Government said were conducting genetic analyses used to further the repression of Muslim minorities, including Uyghurs.
“Beijing actively promotes the reprehensible practice of forced labour and abusive DNA collection and analysis schemes to repress its citizens,” Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said in a statement.
At an earlier briefing, responding to British claims of “gross” human rights abuses against Muslim minorities, Mr Wang described the allegations as “nothing but rumours and slander”.
“The Xinjiang issue is not about human rights, religions or ethnic groups at all, but about combating violence, terrorism and separatism,” Mr Wang said.
China is estimated to have detained at least 1 million people from Muslim ethnic minority groups in internment camps.
The Government describes them as vocational training facilities aimed at countering Muslim radicalism and separatist tendencies.
It said those facilities had since been closed — a claim difficult to confirm due to restrictions on visits to the region.