United States President Joe Biden’s administration has added 37 companies to a trade blacklist, including units of Chinese genetics company BGI and Chinese cloud computing firm Inspur, in a move that promises to further ratchet up tensions with Beijing.
The US Department of Commerce, which oversees export controls, added BGI Research and BGI Tech Solutions (Hongkong) to the list over allegations the units pose a “significant risk” of contributing to Chinese government surveillance.
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“The actions of these entities concerning the collection and analysis of genetic data present a significant risk of diversion to China’s military programs,” it said.
Also listed was BGI’s forensics subsidiary, Forensics Genomics International.
The commerce department 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.
Commerce added 26 other Chinese entities to the list, making it hard for targeted companies to receive shipments of US goods from suppliers.
The additions included several entities Commerce said were supplying or attempting to supply a sanctioned entity in Iran and three firms in Russia, Belarus and Taiwan that were contributing to Moscow’s military.
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,” Assistant Secretary of Commerce Thea Kendler said in a statement.
The latest additions to the trade blacklist are likely to further escalate ill will between Washington and Beijing, which have been locked in a technology war for years.
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. BGI denied allegations of wrongdoing at the time.