Biden administration blacklists Chinese biotech firms over human rights abuses

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The Biden administration on Thursday imposed export restrictions on several Chinese biotechnology companies and organizations it said are involved in China’s efforts to deploy biotechnology for military purposes and human rights abuses.

The Commerce Department said it was adding 34 Chinese entities to its Entity List, meaning that U.S. companies cannot export to the companies without a license.

The group includes the Academy of Military Medical Sciences in China and its eleven related research institutes, which the Biden administration said are using biotechnology to support China’s military. Commerce also imposed restrictions on three entities in Georgia, one in Malaysia and two in Turkey.

“Unfortunately, the PRC [People’s Republic of China] is choosing to use these technologies to pursue control over its people and its repression of members of ethnic and religious minority groups,” Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo said in a statement. “We cannot allow U.S. commodities, technologies, and software that support medical science and biotechnical innovation to be diverted toward uses contrary to U.S. national security.”

Later, the Treasury Department announced that it was imposing sanctions on eight different Chinese technology companies, accusing them of “actively supporting” the use of biometric surveillance and tracking technology against ethnic and religious minorities in China.

“Today’s action highlights how private firms in China’s defense and surveillance technology sectors are actively cooperating with the government’s efforts to repress members of ethnic and religious minority groups,” said Brian Nelson, Treasury’s undersecretary for terrorism and financial intelligence.

The actions are the latest in a series of efforts by the Biden administration to impose costs on China for its treatment against Uyghur Muslims in Xinjiang.

The White House recently announced that it would stage a diplomatic boycott of the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing by not sending any official representation to the games, citing Beijing’s human rights abuses.

The White House has also backed a bipartisan measure that just passed Congress aimed at countering China’s genocide against Uyghurs. The bill was blocked by Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) this week in an effort to extend the expiring child tax credit, but passed by unanimous consent on Thursday. 

Updated 2:17 p.m.

Tags Gina Raimondo Ron Wyden

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