US black­lists China AI cos over mi­nor­ity con­cerns

The Times of India (New Delhi edition) - - Times Global -

The US is black­list­ing a group of Chi­nese tech com­pa­nies that de­velop fa­cial recog­ni­tion and other ar­ti­fi­cial in­tel­li­gence tech­nol­ogy that the US says is be­ing used to re­press China’s Mus­lim mi­nor­ity groups. A move on Mon­day by the US com­merce de­part­ment puts the com­pa­nies on a so-called En­tity List for act­ing con­trary to Amer­i­can for­eign pol­icy in­ter­ests.

The black­list ef­fec­tively bars US firms from sell­ing tech­nol­ogy to the Chi­nese com­pa­nies with­out govern­ment ap­proval. Com­merce sec­re­tary Wil­bur Ross said in a writ­ten state­ment on Mon­day that the US govern­ment “will not tol­er­ate the bru­tal sup­pres­sion of eth­nic mi­nori­ties within China”. The black­listed firms in­clude Hikvi­sion and Dahua, both of which are global providers of video surveil­lance tech­nol­ogy. Hikvi­sion said on Mon­day that it re­spects hu­man rights and strongly op­poses the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion’s de­ci­sion. The firm said it has spent a year try­ing to “clar­ify mis­un­der­stand­ings about the com­pany and ad­dress their con­cerns,” and that this will hurt its US busi­ness part­ners.

Prom­i­nent Chi­nese AI firms such as Sense Time, Megvii and iFly­tek are also on the list. Sense Time and Megvii are known for the de­vel­op­ment of com­puter vi­sion tech­nol­ogy that un­der­pins fa­cial recog­ni­tion prod­ucts, while iFly­tek is known for its voice recog­ni­tion and trans­la­tion ser­vices. The com­pa­nies are among 28 or­gan­i­sa­tions added to the black­list on Mon­day. Along with the tech com­pa­nies, the com­merce de­part­ment’s fil­ing tar­gets lo­cal govern­ment agen­cies in China’s north­west­ern Xin­jiang re­gion.

The fil­ing said the listed groups have been im­pli­cated in “China’s cam­paign of repression, mass ar­bi­trary de­ten­tion, and high-tech­nol­ogy surveil­lance” against Uighurs, Kaza­khs and other pre­dom­i­nantly Mus­lim mi­nor­ity groups. Geng Shuang, a Chi­nese for­eign min­istry spokesman, said the US has no right to in­ter­fere in Xin­jiang’s in­ter­nal af­fairs and de­nied there are hu­man rights is­sues in the re­gion. “This kind of be­hav­iour se­ri­ously vi­o­lates the ba­sic norms of in­ter­na­tional re­la­tions, in­ter­feres in China’s in­ter­nal af­fairs, and harms China’s in­ter­ests,” he said. “The Chi­nese side strongly de­plores and op­poses it.”

US com­merce sec­re­tary Wil­bur Ross said move will en­sure US tech­nolo­gies ‘are not used to re­press de­fence­less mi­nor­ity pop­u­la­tions’

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