China’s foreign ministry has condemned the United States’ blacklisting of 33 Chinese entities to a trade blacklist, as relations between the two nations threaten to nosedive.
The US Department of Commerce added 24 companies and universities to its blacklist on Saturday for “supporting procurement of items for military end-use in China.”
Another nine were scheduled for activities in Xinjiang, where China is carrying out mass-detention and surveillance on the local Uyghur population. The entities were “complicit in human rights violations and abuses…against Uygurs, ethnic Kazakhs, and other members of Muslim minority groups in the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region,” a second statement, issued by the DoC’s Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) read.
Today the Chinese foreign ministry expressed “firm opposition” to the blacklisting. The use of tech companies in Xinjiang was, it said, “to prevent the breeding of terrorism and extremism at the source.
“We urge the United States to correct its mistakes, withdraw the relevant decisions, and stop interfering in China’s internal affairs,” said the ministry’s spokesperson Zhao Lijian. “China will continue to take all necessary measures to safeguard the legitimate rights and interests of Chinese enterprises and safeguard national sovereignty, security and development interests.”
The move is a new nadir in relations between the world’s two largest economies. Tension was already high under a Trump White House that has targeted China, and its supposed economic transgressions, since 2016.
The outbreak of the Coronavirus has further eroded the relationship, with American deaths from the pandemic, which purportedly began in the Chinese city of Wuhan, set to top 100,000. Last week China unveiled a raft of “security laws” for Hong Kong which will significantly reduce autonomy in the region. The laws have sparked renewed pro-democracy rallies in Hong Kong – and driven a greater political wedge between China and the US.
America’s blacklisting—which follows moves in several countries against the integration of Beijing-backed Huawei telecommunications—has further inflamed the situation. Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi warned on Sunday that the blacklisting would push the two countries towards “a new cold war.”