The U.S. imposed broad human rights penalties on dozens of people and entities linked to China, Myanmar, North Korea, and Bangladesh and added Chinese artificial intelligence company SenseTime Group to an investment blacklist.
In action commemorating Human Rights Day, Canada and the United Kingdom joined the United States in imposing sanctions related to human rights violations in Myanmar, at that time Washington also imposed the first new sanctions on North Korea under President Joe Biden’s administration and targeted Myanmar military entities.
“Our actions today, particularly those in partnership with the United Kingdom and Canada, send a message that democracies around the world will act against those who abuse the power of the state to inflict suffering and repression,” Deputy Treasury Secretary Wally Adeyemo said in a statement.
The U.S. Treasury Department said it added SenseTime to a list of “Chinese military-industrial complex companies,” accusing it of developing face recognition technologies that can establish a target’s ethnicity, with a particular focus on identifying ethnic Uyghurs, Reuters reported.
As a result, U.S. investors will be prohibited from investing in it.
According to UN experts and rights groups, more than a million people, mostly Uighurs and members of other Muslim minorities, have been incarcerated in a vast system of camps in China’s far-western region of Xinjiang in recent years.
China denies human rights violations in Xinjiang, but the U.S. government and several human rights organizations think Beijing is committing genocide there.
On Thursday, President Joe Biden addressed a gathering of over 100 international leaders in an appeal to strengthen democracies around the world, calling it the “defining challenge” of the contemporary era defending rights and freedoms in the face of rising authoritarianism.
In a speech at the summit’s conclusion, he said, “This is going to help seed fertile ground for democracy to bloom around the world.”