WASHINGTON, July 20 (Reuters) - The U.S. Commerce Department
added to an economic blacklist on Monday 11 Chinese companies it
said were implicated in human rights violations regarding
China's treatment of Uighurs in the western Xinjiang region.
The step, which leaves the firms unable to buy components
from U.S. companies without U.S. government approval, prompted
an accusation of slander from China, which vowed to take
measures to protect its companies' rights.
The Commerce Department said the companies were involved in
using forced labor by Uighurs and other Muslim minority groups.
Among them are numerous textile companies and two firms the
government said were conducting genetic analyses used to further
the repression of Uighurs and other Muslim minorities.
It was the third group of companies and institutions in
China added to the U.S. blacklist, after two rounds in which the
Trump administration cited 37 entities it said were involved in
China's repression in Xinjiang.
"Beijing actively promotes the reprehensible practice of
forced labor and abusive DNA collection and analysis schemes to
repress its citizens," Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said in a
In Beijing, a foreign ministry spokesman said the United
States was trying to oppress Chinese companies and slander
China's policies in Xinjiang under the pretext of protecting
"We urge the U.S. to correct its mistakes," Wang Wenbin told
a news conference on Tuesday, adding that China would take all
necessary measures to protect its companies' legitimate rights.
The companies added to the blacklist include Nanchang O-Film
Tech, a supplier for Apple's iPhone that hosted Apple chief
executive Tim Cook in December 2017, according to O-Film's
website. It is also a supplier to Amazon.com Inc and Microsoft,
according to an April congressional letter.
The U.S. companies did not immediately comment.
The list includes two subsidiaries of Beijing Genomics
Institute (BGI), a genomics company with ties to the Chinese
government, Senator Marco Rubio said.
'EGREGIOUS ABUSES', SENATOR SAYS
He said the additions will "ensure that U.S. technology does
not aid the Chinese Communist Party's crimes against humanity
and egregious human rights abuses against Uighurs and other
minorities in Xinjiang, including the forced collection of DNA."
BGI Genomics, the listed unit of BGI, said in a
stock market statement that Beijing Liuhe BGI, one of the
subsidiaries added, fell under its management. Beijing Liuhe
BGI's 2019 net profit only accounted for less than 1% of its net
profit, it added.
It said that it would work to verify the reasons for its
subsidiary's inclusion on the list and actively communicate with
the U.S. Commerce Department. It added that it would do its best
to eliminate any negative impact.
Also newly on the list are KTK Group Co, which
makes more than 2,000 products for high-speed trains, ranging
from electronics to seats; and Tanyuan Technology Co
, which assembles high thermal, conductive graphite
reinforced aluminum composites.
KTK said in a statement it had no investments in the United
States and did not rely on U.S. technology. It said its exports
to the United States accounted for less than 0.5% of its total
Tanyuan Technology said its inclusion on the list would not
materially affect its daily operations.
Another blacklisted company is Changji Esquel Textile Co,
which Esquel Group launched in 2009. Esquel Group produces
clothing for Ralph Lauren, Tommy Hilfiger and Hugo Boss.
In a letter to Ross on Monday, Esquel Chief Executive John
Cheh asked for the unit's removal from the list. "Esquel does
not use forced labor, and we never will use forced labor," Cheh
wrote. "We absolutely and categorically oppose forced labor."
Efforts to contact the other companies in China were
Also on the banned roster is Hetian Haolin Hair Accessories
Co. On May 1, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) said it
was halting imports of the company's hair products, citing
evidence of forced labor.
On July 1, CBP seized in Newark a shipment of almost 13 tons
of hair products worth over $800,000 with human hair that it
said originated in Xinjiang.
The Commerce Department previously added 20 Chinese public
security bureaus and companies including video surveillance firm
Hikvision, as well as leaders in facial recognition
technology SenseTime Group Ltd and Megvii Technology in
connection with China's treatment of Muslim minorities.
(Reporting by David Shepardson and Diane Bartz; Additional
reporting by Gabriel Crossley and Roxanne Liu in Beijing, Meg
Shen in Hong Kong and Shanghai Newsroom; Editing by Richard
Pullin, Clarence Fernandez and Mark Heinrich)