After months of apparent inaction and criticism towards its soft stance on China, the Biden administration will reportedly slap economic sanctions on at least 30 Chinese companies tied to the abuse of Uyghur Muslims and other minorities in Xinjiang, and for aiding the Chinese military.
The move is in line with previous Trump administration efforts to crack down on China’s human rights abuses.
Former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo declared that China was committing “ongoing” genocide against the Uyghurs. Pompeo’s successor, Antony Blinken, said he agreed with the designation during his Senate confirmation for the position earlier this year.
Bloomberg reported on Friday that two people familiar with the Biden administration’s plans say that the companies will be added to the U.S. economic blacklist, effectively preventing American companies from doing business with them. The people said that the Biden administration will not be sanctioning any special officials, only companies.
The entity list prevents American companies from doing businesses with individuals, organizations and companies on the list without first obtaining a special license from the U.S. government.
China has come under fire from the international community over its human rights abuses, including its treatment of Uyghurs and other minority groups in Xinjiang, who are reportedly forced to perform labour for the province’s many factories. China is also facing condemnation over its treatment of pro-democracy activists and opposition party leaders in Hong Kong and the crackdown on freedoms in the former British colony.
As a result of reports coming out of Xinjiang, Washington has placed bans on the import of cotton, produce, and even solar products from the region. The U.S. government, the U.K. government, and the European Union have all announced sanctions on Chinese officials involved in the administration of Xinjiang.
In response to criticism it faces over its human rights violations, China has decried its western counterparts over “hypocrisy,” pointing out historical injustices toward black and indigenous people, playing on racially divisive rhetoric made popular by leftist activists in North America.
Crucially, the Chinese government passed an anti-foreign sanctions law in June that enables the Communist government to seize assets from any individual who plays a part in creating sanctions against China.