US adds 11 more Chinese companies to entity list for Uyghur human rights violations

Among the sanctioned companies is a camera part supplier for Apple.
Written by Campbell Kwan, Contributor

The United States has added 11 more Chinese companies into its entity list for their alleged involvement in repressing Uyghur Muslims and other Muslim ethnic minorities within China, effectively banning them from purchasing US technology without a licence.

Nine of those companies were added to the entity list for allegedly putting Uyghur Muslims into forced labour. These companies are OFilm Group, Changji Esquel Textile, Hefei Bitland Information Technology, Hefei Meiling, Hetian Haolin Hair Accessories, Hetian Taida Apparel, KTK Group, Nanjing Synergy Textiles, and Tanyuan Technology, according to the announcement.

The remaining two companies, Xinjiang Silk Road BGI and Beijing Liuhe BGI, were sanctioned for conducting genetic analyses used to further the repression of Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities, the US Department of Commerce said.

"Beijing actively promotes the reprehensible practice of forced labor and abusive DNA collection and analysis schemes to repress its citizens," said US Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross. 

"This action will ensure that our goods and technologies are not used in the Chinese Communist Party's despicable offensive against defenseless Muslim minority populations."

OFilm is allegedly a strategic partner and supplier of various tech companies such as Acer, ASUS, Amazon, Dell, HP, HTC, Huawei, Lenovo, LG, Meizu, Microsoft, Oppo, Samsung, Sony, Vivo, Xiaomi, and ZTE, according to a report published in March by the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI), a think tank established by the Australian government.  

The ASPI report added that OFilm manufactured key components of iPhone 8 and iPhone X camera technologies for Apple in 2017. The now-sanctioned company is also on Apple's 2019 supplier list [PDF]. 

Soon after the report was released, LG distanced itself from OFilm and denied having any connections with one of the factories named in the report.

"LG Electronics expects all of its suppliers to abide by our supplier code of conduct which is very clear on our stance regarding forced labour. LG Electronics has no direct relationship with any company named OFilm," the Korean chaebol said to ZDNet.

Meanwhile, Hefei Bitland, another company added to the entity list, says on its website that it is partnered with Google, Haier, Hisense, HTC, HP, and Lenovo.

China has faced growing condemnation for its treatment of Uyghur Muslims and other Muslim minorities, with numerous reports stating that Chinese authorities have been tracking the movements of these people. There have also been reports of other human rights abuses, such as the installation of spyware on the phones of Uyghur Muslim and placing Uyghur Muslims into "re-education" camps

Prior to these latest sanctions, since October, 37 Chinese companies had already been added to the entity list for violations related to Xinjiang. The US government has also placed other Chinese technology companies, including Huawei and ZTE, on its entity list and labelled them as national security threats.

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