The United States Department of Commerce has added 37 companies, including units of Chinese genetics company BGI and Chinese cloud computing firm Inspur, to its trade blacklist. The move is expected to further escalate tensions between the US and China, which have been engaged in a technology war for several years. The US Department of Commerce claims that BGI Research and BGI Tech Solutions (Hongkong) pose a “significant risk” of contributing to Chinese government surveillance. It also accused Inspur of acquiring and attempting to acquire US goods to support China’s military modernisation efforts. The companies and the Chinese embassy in Washington, DC did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
The commerce department added 26 other Chinese entities to the list, making it difficult for targeted companies to receive shipments of US goods from suppliers. The sanctions were also aimed at companies in China and Myanmar for human rights violations, and companies in China and Pakistan for contributing to ballistic missile programs of concern, including Pakistan’s. “When we identify entities that pose a national security or foreign policy concern for the United States, we add them to the Entity List to ensure we can scrutinise their transactions,” said Assistant Secretary of Commerce Thea Kendler.
The latest additions to the trade blacklist are likely to further escalate ill will between Washington and Beijing. Tensions have been especially high since the Biden administration last month shot down a suspected Chinese spy balloon that had crossed a broad swath of the United States. “We cannot allow our adversaries to misuse and abuse technology to commit human rights abuses and other acts of oppression,” said Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Export Enforcement Matthew Axelrod. “That’s why we’re committed to preventing bad actors from siphoning off our technology. We will take an all-tools approach to combat this threat.”
In 2020, the US commerce department added two units of BGI Group, the world’s largest genomics company, to its economic blacklist over allegations it conducted genetic analyses used to further the repression of China’s minority Uyghurs. Beijing has denied wrongdoing, while BGI denied allegations of wrongdoing at the time.