Blackburn urges Commerce Department to add more Chinese companies to 'entity list,' restrict trade
GOP lawmakers seek to block five companies that have developed software used for surveillance over its own citizens
Tennessee Republican Sen. Marsha Blackburn called on the Department of Commerce Wednesday to blacklist five Chinese companies suspected of aiding the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) in its suppression and surveillance of the Uyghur minority group.
In a letter obtained by Fox News to Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo, Blackburn and 10 other Senate Republicans listed five entities with connections to the Chinese Academy of Sciences Institute of Automation.
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The senators urged the U.S. agency to blacklist companies that have developed software, like biometrics and gait analysis used to enhance CCP surveillance over its own citizens, particularly among ethnic Muslim groups, including the Uyghurs.
Vistek Co. Ltd., Beijing IrisKing Co. Ltd., IriStar Technology Co. Ltd., Watrix.ai and Beijing ViSystem Corporation Ltd. were listed as the five companies that lawmakers want the Commerce Department to add to the U.S. "entity list" and restrict all future trade with.
"The human rights abuses at the hands of the CCP are evident in the Xinjiang region where Uyghurs and other ethnic and religious groups are targeted and punished," the senators wrote Wednesday. "Elements of the surveillance and control tactics utilized in Xinjiang are also evident in the regions of Tibet and Inner Mongolia, and even against dissidents in major metropolitan cities such as Beijing and Shanghai."
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The lawmakers accused the CCP of weaponizing software developed by these companies and violating human rights, particularly amongst minority populations.
Blackburn said that it is increasingly important that any company doing business with the U.S. is "thoroughly vetted" to preserve U.S. national security and "emphasize that we do not condone the immoral behavior of the CCP."
The letter to Raimondo comes just one week after the Biden administration said it would not be attending the Winter Olympics in Beijing as part of a diplomatic boycott over China’s human rights abuses.
China has condemned the move and accused the U.S. of stirring up trouble.
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Despite numerous reports of human rights abuses, forced sterilization, forced labor and other atrocities described by the U.S. as a genocide against the Uyghur populations in Xinjiang, China has repeatedly denied any such abuses.
Fox News could not immediately reach the Commerce Department for comment.