Several Chinese biotech and surveillance technology companies and government entities are facing new U.S. sanctions for alleged human rights abuses of the Uyghur Muslims in China’s western Xinjiang province.
On Thursday, the Biden administration said the new sanctions will prevent American companies from selling products to China's Academy of Military Medical Sciences and its 11 research institutes that develop biotechnology.
The administration says China uses biotechnology to oppress the Uyghurs. China denies this and says any security measures against the Uyghurs are to prevent terrorism.
"The scientific pursuit of biotechnology and medical innovation can save lives. Unfortunately, the PRC [People's Republic of China] is choosing to use these technologies to pursue control over its people and its repression of members of ethnic and religious minority groups," Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo said in a statement. "We cannot allow U.S. commodities, technologies, and software that support medical science and biotechnical innovation to be diverted toward uses contrary to U.S. national security."
The move comes as the administration recently announced a diplomatic boycott of the upcoming Winter Olympics in Beijing because of China’s "egregious human rights abuses and atrocities in Xinjiang."
The White House also said it supports bipartisan legislation that would ban imports of items made in Xinjiang unless China can prove they weren’t made using forced labor.
That bill was blocked Wednesday by Democratic Senator Ron Wyden, who wanted to tie it to extending child tax credits, which are set to expire.
Some information in this report comes from The Associated Press.