Biden Finally Stands Up To China, CC BY 4.0 , via Wikimedia Commons

Will Biden stand firm against them?

In recent steps against Beijing’s human rights abuses against Uyghur Muslims, the Biden administration said it would be imposing new sanctions on various surveillance and biotech Chinese companies and government entities.

In a move that will prohibit American companies from selling components to unlicensed entities, the Commerce Department has directed its efforts to eleven research institutes in China’s Academy of Military Medical that focus on biotechnology responsible for supporting the Chinese military.

In a statement on the matter, Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo said that the government could not allow U.S. commodities, technology, and software to divert medical and biotechnical innovation towards uses that contradict the U.S national security. She also said that although the pursuit of biotechnology and medical innovation could save lives, the People’s Republic of China was using it to control citizens and repress minority religious and ethnic groups.

Following this news, a senior administration official revealed the Treasury Department would also issue penalties against Chinese entities in a soon-to-be-announced move.

To explain the Treasury Department’s actions, the official revealed that U.S intelligence discovered that the PRC had implemented a high-tech surveillance system in Xinjiang. The system used biometric facial recognition in addition to DNA samples collected from those aged 12 to 65 in a calculated and systematic attempt to suppress Uyghur Muslims.

On Wednesday (December 15th), while responding to reports about the U.S. announcing new sanctions, China’s foreign ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian said that China would closely follow developments but would resolutely safeguard Chinese enterprises’ legitimate rights and interests.

This follows an announcement last week from the Treasury Department that it was banning U.S. investment into Sense Time, a facial recognition company, whose technology was actively used in the oppression of Uyghurs. The White House also announced that it was staging a diplomatic boycott of the Beijing Winter Olympics, referencing human rights abuses as the reason.

However, Beijing vehemently denies any human rights abuses, saying that the steps it has taken are necessary for the combat of terrorism and a separatist movement.