The United States on Thursday added two subsidiaries of Chinese genetics company BGI to a trade blacklist over allegations it conducted genetic analysis and surveillance activities for Beijing, which Washington says was used to repress ethnic minorities in China.
The US Department of Commerce, which oversees export controls, said in a statement that BGI Research and BGI Tech Solutions (Hongkong) “present a significant risk of diversion to China’s military programs.”
“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, which has been utilized in the repression of ethnic minorities in China,” the statement said.
CNN has reached out to BGI Group, which is one of the world’s largest genomics companies and a listed firm based in Shenzhen, for comment on its subsidiaries.
In 2020, the US Department of Commerce added two other BGI affiliates, Xinjiang Silk Road BGI and Beijing Liuhe BGI, to the trade blacklist over their alleged involvement in human right abuses against Uyghur and other mainly Muslim minorities in China’s far western region of Xinjiang.
BGI Group issued a statement at the time denying the allegations, saying it “does not engage in unethical practices and does not provide gene technology for the surveillance of Uighurs.”
Rights groups have documented human rights abuses in Xinjiang since the 2000s, including forced labor and coercive enforcement of family planning and birth control policies on Uyghur minorities, according to a damning United Nations report last year. China has regularly pushed back against these reports with firm denials.
The latest list compiled by the US Department of Commerce includes a total of 28 Chinese entities, four from Pakistan, three from Myanmar and one each from Belarus, Russia and Taiwan.
Being placed on the list means the entities are restricted from buying American technology and other goods.