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Blacklisting of Chinese tech companies slammed

By Ma Si and Wang Qingyun | China Daily | Updated: 2019-10-09 02:01
File photo: the headquarter of video surveillance powerhouse Hikvision in East China's Hangzhou city. [Photo/IC]

The US government's decision to add eight Chinese technology companies to its "Entity List" will hurt the interests of their suppliers in the United States and hamper global cooperation on artificial intelligence, analysts said on Tuesday.

The comments came after the US Commerce Department placed the companies — including video surveillance powerhouse Hikvision and facial recognition technology leaders SenseTime Group and Megvii Technology — on a list banning them from buying components from US companies without special government approval.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said on Tuesday that China is strongly dissatisfied by and firmly opposed to the move, and he urged Washington to revoke the decision.

So-called human rights issues in the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region, as claimed by the US, don't exist, Geng said. He added that the US accusations against China are "total nonsense", and China will continue to take firm and powerful steps to maintain its sovereignty, safety and developmental interests.

Bai Ming, a senior researcher at the Chinese Academy of International Trade and Economic Cooperation, said the US government is expanding its blacklist to include more Chinese tech leaders, a move that will disrupt global companies' confidence in the US trade system and increase uncertainty in supply chains.

"Also, most of them are AI pioneers in China that consume tons of chips from US companies including Nvidia Corp, Intel Corp and others. These US suppliers will ultimately suffer from the ban," Bai said.

In May, Washington put Chinese tech company Huawei Technologies on the "Entity List", resulting in sales slumps among US suppliers such as Qualcomm Inc in the second quarter this year.

On Tuesday, the eight Chinese tech giants also voiced strong opposition to the ban, saying that the US government did not offer any factual evidence to support the accusations that they are implicated in human rights violations.

A representative of Hikvision said in a statement to China Daily that the company has been engaging with US administration officials over the past year to clarify misunderstandings about the company and address their concerns.

"Punishing Hikvision, despite these engagements, will deter global companies from communicating with the US government, hurt Hikvision's US business partners and negatively affect the US economy," the representative said.

AI pioneer iFlytek Co said in a filing that the ban will not have a big impact on its daily operations as most of its core technologies are domestically developed.

iFlytek also said the company already has backup plans to respond to such a ban and it can continue offering services and products to its clients.

Xiang Ligang, director-general of telecom industry association Information Consumption Alliance, said that after the Huawei restrictions Chinese tech companies have all devoted efforts to ensure the sustainability of their supply chains and they have the option of choosing products from domestic AI chip companies to replace those from US suppliers.

AI startup SenseTime Group Ltd said in a statement that the company will work closely with all relevant authorities to fully understand and resolve the situation.

"We have been actively developing our AI code of ethics to ensure our technologies are used in a responsible way," the statement said.

Contact the writers at masi@chinadaily.com.cn

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