U.S. takes action on Xinjiang, Canada remains silent

List of backlisted companies may grow longer . . .

The Trump Administration is considering blacklisting Chinese technology companies for enabling China’s repression of the Uighur minority in the country’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region. If it proceeds, the U.S. will add five more companies to the list of already banned Chinese entities, include Hikvision, the world’s largest manufacturer of video surveillance products, and Megvii, a rising startup specializing in facial recognition.

Pervasive surveillance brought to bear . . .

As the world’s leader in artificial intelligence (AI) and facial recognition technologies, China has often used these tools for good, like finding missing children and solving crimes. However, human rights groups have revealed that China is also using AI-integrated facial recognition systems to keep tabs on its own citizens. This system is believed to be deployed on a large scale in the far-western province of Xinjiang, where the predominantly Muslim Uighurs and other minorities are being monitored and held in large re-education camps.

Will Canada’s voice rise above a whisper?

If the U.S. ban proceeds, it will become the first major government-level action taken in response to China’s repression in Xinjiang. Yesterday, U.S. Senator Mark Warner urged Canada to speak out more forcefully against China’s surveillance of and crackdown on the Uighurs. Rosemary McCarney, representing Canada at the UN Human Rights Council last November, said Ottawa was “deeply concerned” with the situation. But McCarney’s statement remains the only official Canadian voice, accordingly to The Globe and Mail, and Uighur oppression remains notably absent from official addresses by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Minister of Foreign Affairs Chrystia Freeland.