The U.S. government has announced sanctions on several Chinese biotech and surveillance firms, while the Senate approved legislation barring some imports from China's western Xinjiang region, in the latest steps against Beijing over human rights abuses against Uyghurs, a major indigenous ethnic group in Xinjiang.
Citing the Chinese entities' roles in the Beijing regime's actions against Uyghurs, the U.S. Commerce Department and the Treasury Department on December 16 announced synchronized punitive measures.
The Commerce Department added the Academy of Military Medical Sciences and its 11 research institutes that focus on using biotechnology to support the Chinese military to its list of firms and institutions, restricting access to exports.
The Treasury Department, meanwhile, added eight Chinese technology firms, including drone maker DJI Technology Co Ltd., to an investment blacklist, according to the department's website.
The Chinese Foreign Ministry responded to the new sanctions on December 17 by saying it would "take all necessary measures to resolutely safeguard the legitimate rights and interests of Chinese institutions and enterprises."
The measures, Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said, indicate that "the U.S. has no scruples about smearing China by every means."
China has been under growing international criticism and hit with sanctions for detaining more than 1 million Uyghurs and representatives of Xinjiang's other indigenous, mostly Muslim, Turkic-speaking ethnic groups for political "reeducation" in Xinjiang.
China insists such camps are "vocational education centers" aimed at helping people steer clear of terrorism.
A senior U.S. administration official who spoke on the condition of anonymity said that U.S. intelligence has established that China has set up a high-tech surveillance system across Xinjiang employing biometric facial recognition and collecting DNA samples from all the region's residents aged 12 to 65 as part of a systematic effort to suppress Uyghurs.
Meanwhile, the U.S. Senate gave final approval on December 16 to a bill barring all imports from China’s Xinjiang region unless businesses can prove they were produced without forced labor.
The vote, by unanimous consent, to approve the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act came two days after the House of Representatives also passed it.
The bill now goes to President Joe Biden, who is expected to sign it.
The White House announced last week it would stage a diplomatic boycott of the upcoming Winter Olympics in Beijing, citing China's "egregious human rights abuses and atrocities in Xinjiang."/ Rferl