The blacklist effectively bars US firms from selling technology to Chinese companies without government approval.

Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross walks into the East Room of the White House before a news conference with President Trump and Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison, Friday, September 20, 2019, in Washington.
Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross walks into the East Room of the White House before a news conference with President Trump and Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison, Friday, September 20, 2019, in Washington. (AP)

The US Commerce Department announced Monday it is blacklisting 28 Chinese entities that it says are implicated in rights violations and abuses targeting Uyghurs and other mostly Muslim minorities in the Xinjiang region.

The blacklist effectively bars US firms from selling technology to Chinese companies without government approval.

Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross announced the move, which bars the named entities from purchasing US products, saying the United States "cannot and will not tolerate the brutal suppression of ethnic minorities within China."

The blacklist seeks to put the group of Chinese tech companies that develop facial recognition and other artificial intelligence technology on a so-called Entity List for acting contrary to American foreign policy interests.

According to an update to the US Federal Register set to be published Wednesday, the blacklisted firms included video surveillance company Hikvision, as well as artificial intelligence companies Megvii Technology, iFlytek and SenseTime.

Rights groups say China has detained around one million Uyghurs and other Muslims in re-education camps in the western Xinjiang region in a step Washington says is reminiscent of Nazi Germany.

China had until recently denied the camps existed but now claims they are "vocational training schools" necessary to control terrorism while decrying interference in its "internal affairs."

The US move came after Washington banned technology giant Huawei and other Chinese firms from government contracts, amid the trade war between the two countries.

The Chinese embassy and several of the targeted companies didn't immediately return requests for comment Monday. The affected list also includes some regional government agencies in China.

Source: AFP