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23 May, 2020 13:05

US tech giants still doing business with blacklisted Chinese companies, research firm claims

US tech giants still doing business with blacklisted Chinese companies, research firm claims

American behemoths such as Google, Amazon and Microsoft are providing web services to Chinese companies included in the infamous US Entity List, according to UK-based tech research firm Top10VPN.

“Despite the Trump administration’s efforts to decouple the American and Chinese technology sectors, the continued presence of American companies in more discreet settings shows that cooperation between the two remains,” the company, which specializes in digital privacy and security, said in a recent report.

Top10VPN alleges that the big tech provided the “core web services” required to power websites, including web and email hosting, and also content delivery networks (CDNs) that allow a user to download data faster. The services were provided not only for the blacklisted Chinese “surveillance” firms, but for “other highly controversial surveillance companies around the world,” too. 

“Not only are US companies working with controversial Chinese companies, they are also helping the notorious NSO Group, as well as 16 other companies that have faced allegations of human rights abuses, stay online,” the research noted.

Google supports the most companies, namely nine, while Amazon and Microsoft provide some services to seven and four entities respectively. Not all of them are on the infamous economic blacklist, but all three tech giants are working with at least two such firms. 

For example, Amazon and Google are providing web services for Dahua Technology and Hikvision, the world’s largest manufacturers of video surveillance products, which Washington accused of human rights violations and placed under restrictions. Additionally, Hikvision is reportedly using Facebook and Twitter CDNs. Blacklisted Chinese artificial-intelligence giants, such as SenseTime and Megvii, are reportedly using Microsoft email hosting services. RT has contacted the companies for comment. Microsoft said they would not comment, while the others are yet to respond.

In October, some 28 Chinese AI firms were added to the Entity List, alongside Huawei, essentially barring American firms from doing business with them. The Trump administration alleges the enlisted companies were “implicated in human rights violations and abuses in the implementation of China’s campaign of repression, mass arbitrary detention, and high-technology surveillance” against Uyghurs and other ethnic minorities in the Xinjiang region. China denied the accusations, saying that Washington is using the list as a tool “to deliberately interfere in China’s internal affairs.”

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The Entity List has been extended since then, with the latest addition having been made on Friday. More than 30 Chinese firms and institutions were included, with the US Commerce Department using the same justification for its actions as it did back in October.

As tensions mount between the US and China, sparking concerns over the future of their trade deal, Beijing has threatened to slap restrictions on American tech giants such as Apple and Qualcomm. The rebuke came after Washington decided to cut off Huawei as one of its providers of foreign chip technology.

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