WASHINGTON – The U.S. Commerce Department on Monday placed 28 Chinese public security bureaus and companies -- including video surveillance company Hikvision and seven other companies -- on a U.S. trade blacklist over Beijing's treatment of Uighur Muslims and other predominantly Muslim ethnic minorities. Those added to the so-called Entity List include the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region People's Government Public Security Bureau, 19 subordinate government agencies and eight commercial firms, according to a Commerce Department filing. The companies include some of China's leading artificial intelligence firms such as SenseTime Group Ltd., and Megvii Technology Ltd., which is backed by Alibaba, as well as Hikvision, formally known as Hangzhou Hikvision Digital Technology Co. Ltd., Zhejiang Dahua Technology, IFLYTEK Co. Xiamen Meiya Pico Information Co., and Yixin Science and Technology Co. Megvii filed for an IPO this summer of at least $500 million in Hong Kong, while SenseTime raised $620 million in a second round of funding in just two months last year and is one of the world's most valuable unicorns in artificial intelligence. While U.S. officials said the announcement was not tied to this week's resumption of trade talks with China, the announcement sets the tone for a potentially more aggressive positioning by Washington in negotiations with Beijing to end an 15 month trade war between the world's biggest economies. Reuters reported on the planned additions earlier on Monday, before the Commerce Department made it official.
This picture taken on May 3, 2018 shows the ZTE logo on an office building in Shanghai. Telecom giant ZTE may have temporarily escaped a "death sentence," after the U.S. tentatively lifted a ban that would have blocked the Chinese company's access to American technology, but its outlook is anything but certain as it reels from mounting losses, management tumult and renewed political uncertainties. The Shenzhen-based company had about $6 billion wiped off its market value in just three days last week after its shares finally resumed trading on both the Hong Kong and Shenzhen stock exchanges. The company's stock had been suspended since mid-April when the sanctions were announced. ZTE said on June 8 it had agreed to pay a total of $1.4 billion in fines and overhaul its senior management ranks in exchange for removing a ban on purchasing the components and services needed for assembling its smartphones and telecom gear.
The bombshell Paradise Papers are reportedly implicating key members of the Trump administration. On Nov. 5, one of the largest data leaks in history revealed the offshore endeavors of some of the world's most influential people. The Paradise Papers refers to a trove of 13.4 million documents that expose the offshore assets of some of the world's biggest companies such as Nike, Apple, and Uber. The leak, which is one of the biggest in history and comes about 18 months after the Panama Papers leak, exposes how these companies and individuals "avoid taxes through increasingly imaginative bookkeeping maneuvers," according to the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, a global network of more than 200 investigative journalists in 70 countries who collaborate on in-depth investigative stories, according to its website, which has access to the documents. Most of the leaked files come from an offshore legal firm called Appleby, which was founded in Bermuda but has offices in Hong Kong, the Cayman Islands, Shanghai, and other locations.
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) is pressing forward with a lawsuit involving the facial recognition software offered by Amazon and Microsoft to government clients. In a complaint filed in a Massachusetts federal court, the ACLU asked for a variety of different records from the government, including inquiries to companies, meetings about the piloting or testing of facial recognition, voice recognition, and gait recognition technology, requests for proposals, and licensing agreements. At the heart of the lawsuit are Amazon's Rekognition and Microsoft's Face API, both facial recognition products that are available for customers of the companies' cloud platforms. The ACLU has also asked for more details on the US government's use of voice recognition and gait recognition, which is the automated process of comparing images of the way a person walks in order to identify them. Police in Shanghai and Beijing are already using gait-analysis tools to identify people.
A humanoid robot named Yangyang is the latest to be revealed in China. Dressed in a full-length coat, the android can display a wide range of facial expressions and can speak, move its head, and raise its hands to greet people convincingly. And the machine bears an uncanny - yet apparently accidental - resemblance to former Governor of Alaska, Sarah Palin. Yangyang is one of a number of impressively realistic robots to be unveiled at the Global Mobile Internet Conference (GMIC) 2015 in Beijing, China. The android was produced jointly by China's Shanghai Yangyang Intelligent Robot Science Service Centre and renowned Japanese robotics professor Hiroshi Ishiguro, who has created some of the world's most eerily lifelike androids.