The Biden administration said Thursday it is imposing new sanctions on several Chinese biotech and surveillance companies for actions in Xinjiang province, the latest step against Beijing over human rights abuses of Uyghur Muslims in the country’s western region.
The Commerce Department is targeting China’s Academy of Military Medical Sciences and its 11 research institutes that focus on using biotechnology to support the Chinese military.
The Treasury Department is also set to issue penalties against several Chinese entities, according to a senior administration official who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the soon-to-be-announced moves.
The official, explaining the Commerce Department actions, noted that U.S. intelligence has established that Beijing has set up a high tech surveillance system across Xinjiang that uses biometric facial recognition and has collected DNA samples from all residents, ages 12 to 65, in Xinjiang part of a systematic effort to suppress Uyghurs.
The White House announced last week it would stage a diplomatic boycott of the upcoming Winter Olympics in Beijing, citing China’s “egregious human rights abuses and atrocities in Xinjiang.” U.S. athletes will continue to compete but Biden will not send the usual contingent of dignitaries.
The administration also said this week that it supported bipartisan legislation that bans imports into the U.S. from Xinjiang unless companies can demonstrate the goods were not produced by forced labour.
China has denied any abuses and says the steps it has taken are necessary to combat terrorism and a separatist movement.