A major Chinese genomics company is rejecting human rights abuses after several of its units were blacklisted by the U.S. last week over concerns they were contributing to Chinese surveillance.
Three units of BGI Group, one of the world’s biggest genetics analysis companies, were among Chinese companies added to the U.S. Commerce Department’s “entity list.” The list aims to limit access to U.S. technology on security or human rights grounds.
The “entity list” designation requires BGI Research, Forensic Genomics International and BGI Tech Solutions (Hongkong) Co. Ltd. to obtain government permission to acquire sensitive U.S. technology.
The Commerce Department said the addition of these entities is based upon information that indicates their collection and analysis of genetic data poses a “significant risk of contributing to monitoring and surveillance by the government of China.”
Activists say Beijing is trying to create a database of genetic information from Muslims and other Chinese minorities.
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The Chinese government accused Washington on Friday of improperly attacking China’s companies. BGI, headquartered in the southern city of Shenzhen, said its services are only for civilian and scientific purposes.
The U.S. decision “may have been impacted by misinformation, and we are willing and able to clarify,” BGI Group said. It didn’t mention minority Uyghurs or other Muslim minorities but previously has denied it provided technology to surveil them.
“BGI Group does not condone and would never be involved in any human-rights abuses,” the company said.
Other Chinese companies were cited for their role in the ruling Chinese Communist Party’s military modernization or weapons development by Iran and Pakistan and suspected human rights abuses in Myanmar.
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Washington has accused China of trying to use civilian companies to obtain processor chip, aerospace and other technologies with possible military or security uses.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.