The US Commerce Department has blacklisted 28 Chinese security agencies and companies, restricting the licenses needed for trade with the United States.
Chinese video surveillance giant Hikvision has opposed the US move, stressing that the decision has no basis in fact, according to Chinese-based media reports.
A second company to strongly protest the US decision was the Chinese firm Megvii Technology specializing in image recognition and deep-learning software algorithms.
According to an official press release by the company, it will prepare countermeasures in response to the US action.
The US Commerce Department said that the restrictions were imposed on the Chinese companies over allegations that Beijing has cracked down on ethnic Muslims in the Xinjiang province. Over half of the targeted agencies are police departments affiliated with the so-called Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region People’s Government Security Bureau.
In late September, Beijing protested US remarks on allegations that the Chinese government was engaging in the widespread repression of the Muslim population of China’s northwestern Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region.
“I would like to point out that the Chinese party expresses strong discontent and protest over US discussions of the so-called human rights crisis in Xinjiang, defaming the Chinese religious policy and interference in its internal affairs”, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said at a press briefing.
Geng pointed out that the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region was facing problems related to separatism and terrorism, not only sectarian tensions.
“The Chinese government has always paid much attention to the development and stability of Xinjiang, as well as ensuring freedom of religion for all peoples, living in Xinjiang”, Geng added.
In an August 2018 report, UN experts on the elimination of racial discrimination reported that up to 1 million ethnic Uyghurs were being be held in ‘re-education camps’.
Beijing has heatedly denied the existence of such camps, saying that the accusations have not been substantiated, claiming instead that the reported detention facilities are vocational colleges set up as part of counterterrorist efforts.