The U.S. Commerce Department added 11 companies to its U.S. economic blacklist. The measures are said to have been taken in response to the companies’ implications in human rights violations via their connection to China’s treatment of the Uighur population in Xinjiang.
The companies were involved in using forced labor involving Uighurs and other minority ethnic groups, while two firms were involved in “genetic analyses used to further the repression of Uighurs and other Muslim minorities,” according to Reuters.
A New York Times investigation recently uncovered some companies’ use of forced Uighur labor to produce P.P.E. products, which was linked with a government-sponsored program which placed Uighurs and other ethnic minorities into factory and service jobs.
“In a response to The Times, the spokesman for China’s Embassy in the U.S. said the program helps ‘local residents rise above poverty through employment and lead fulfilling lives,’” according to the New York Times.
However, Uighurs have long faced persecution from the Chinese government. Its justifications center around the argument that tight control over Xinjiang is required to fight “religious extremism.”
“Human rights groups and western governments have catalogued attacks on the Muslim Uighur minority in China’s western region, including mass forced sterilization and detainment in ‘re-education’ camps,” according to The Guardian. China’s Ambassador to the U.K., Liu Xiaoming recently vigorously defended his country’s treatment of the Muslim minority population when presented with “Drone footage of hundreds of blindfolded and shackled men, who appeared to be Uighur and other minority ethnic groups, being led from a train in what was believed to be a transfer of inmates in Xinjiang last August.”
The Ambassador claimed that all countries have instances of prisoner transfers.