China accuses US of attacking companies after export restrictions

BEIJING (AP) – China on Friday accused Washington of unlawfully targeting Chinese companies after genetic analysis giant BGI Group and 17 other companies faced security or human rights restrictions on access to US technology.

The Commerce Department said it sees a danger that two BGI units could contribute to a government surveillance apparatus that rights groups say is trying to build a database of genetic samples that Muslims and other minorities have been forced to provide.

Other companies have been cited for their role in the military modernization of the ruling Communist Party or weapons development by Iran and Pakistan and have been suspected of human rights abuses in Myanmar.

Washington has accused China of trying to use civilian companies to obtain processor chips, aerospace and other technologies that could be used to make weapons. Beijing counters that the US government is trying to stop potential commercial competitors.

The United States is “fabricating pretexts to suppress Chinese companies,” Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Mao Ning said. She urged Washington to “relinquish ideological prejudice” and “stop using various pretexts to unreasonably suppress Chinese enterprises.”

Mao said Beijing would “resolutely defend the legitimate rights” of its companies, but did not provide any retaliatory measures. The government has made similar announcements in the wake of previous US restrictions, but often takes no action.

BGI Research and BGI Tech Solutions (Hongkong) Co., Ltd. have been added to the Entity List, which requires them to obtain government approval to acquire confidential American technology.

Their genetic analysis “poses a significant risk of facilitating” surveillance and repression of minorities, the Commerce Department said. It says there is a “significant risk of diversion” to military programs.

The BGI Group did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The BGI has previously denied accusations that it provided technology to monitor Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities in northwest China.

Beijing has retaliated against earlier US restrictions by creating its own list of “unreliable organizations” of foreign companies that could jeopardize China’s national sovereignty, security, or development interests.

Lockheed Martin Corporation and Raytheon Missiles and Defense Division of Raytheon Technologies Corp. were added to the restricted list last month after they supplied arms to Taiwan, an insular democracy that Beijing claims as part of its territory. They are prohibited from bringing goods into China or making new investments in the country.

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