A Chinese tech company recently blacklisted by the United States government over human rights concerns has business ties to Hunter Biden, son of Democratic presidential candidate and former Vice President Joe Biden.
On Monday, the U.S. Department of Commerce announced that 28 Chinese entities would be added to the list of firms that U.S. companies are barred from doing business with, as they “have been implicated in human rights violations and abuses in China’s campaign targeting Uighurs and other predominantly Muslim ethnic minorities.”
“The U.S. Government and Department of Commerce cannot and will not tolerate the brutal suppression of ethnic minorities within China,” said Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross.
One of the added entities is Megvii Technology, a company in which Hunter Biden owns a stake through his investment fund, Bohai Harvest RST (BHR). According to Fox Business, Biden has a 10 percent stake in the investment company.
A story in the Intercept from earlier this year explains the Biden-Mevii relationship in greater detail. In 2017, the report explains, BHR invested in one of Megvii’s divisions, Face++, which makes facial recognition software.
Human Rights Watch initially issued a report in May that said Face++ code was found in an app used by Chinese police to track people in the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region. The organization later said that the code was “inoperable.” In April, the New York Times listed Megvii as one of multiple tech companies behind software used in China’s technological crackdown on Uighurs, but the company at the time said that it was focused on “commercial not political solutions.”
Megvii also says that the U.S. government’s blacklist decision was a wrong.
“Megvii strongly objects to the company’s designation on the U.S. Commerce Department’s Entity List, for which there are no grounds,” reads a company statement. “We are committed to making sure our technology has a positive impact on society and we are in compliance with all laws and regulations in jurisdictions where we operate.”
Megvii is a private company that is currently trying to go public, though Goldman Sachs said it is re-evaluating its involvement in the initial public offering (IPO) in light of the blacklisting. A September story at Wired points out that the IPO filing admits that police make use of its technology, but not in the context of Uighur surveillance. Instead, “It presents case studies that make its surveillance offerings sound more cuddly.”
Hunter Biden’s role at BHR and the fact that the announcement of the fund coincided with his 2013 trip to China aboard Air Force Two as part of a U.S. delegation are at the heart of President Donald Trump’s efforts to have both Bidens’ dealings in the country looked at by the Chinese government.
Trump suggested last week that “China should start an investigation in to the Bidens, because what happened in China was just about as bad as what happened with Ukraine.” A Chinese official responded this week that the country has “no intention of intervening in the domestic affairs of the United States.”