BEIJING — BGI Group, one of the world’s biggest genetics analysis companies, said Sunday it never would be involved in human rights abuses after the U.S. government said there was a danger some of its units might contribute to Chinese surveillance.

[See full statement here; full statement also included in this post.]

Three BGI units were among Chinese companies added to an “entity list” last week that limits access to U.S. technology on security or human rights grounds. The Commerce Department cited a risk BGI technology might contribute to surveillance. Activists say Beijing is trying to create a database of genetic information from Muslims and other Chinese minorities.

The Chinese government accused Washington on Friday of improperly attacking China’s companies.

BGI, headquartered in the southern city of Shenzhen, said its services are only for civilian and scientific purposes.

BGI Group Statement

March 05, 2023

We are aware of, and disagree with, the decision of the Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) under the U.S. Department of Commerce to include BGI Research, BGI Tech Solutions (Hongkong) Co., Ltd., and Forensic Genomics International on the Entity List.

Funded by BGI Group, BGI Research is a globally recognized scientific research organization. Forensic Genomics International is a subsidiary of BGI Group. BGI Tech Solutions (Hongkong) Co., Ltd. is a subsidiary of BGI Genomics Co., Ltd., a publicly listed subsidiary of BGI Group.

We believe the BIS’s decision may have been impacted by misinformation and we are willing and able to clarify. BGI Group’s work strictly abides by local, regional, and global moral and ethical standards, and adheres to all required laws and regulations. BGI Group does not condone and would never be involved in any human-rights abuses. None of BGI Group is state-owned or state-controlled, and all of BGI Group’s services and research are provided for civilian and scientific purposes.

An international leader in life sciences, BGI Group has helped communities globally in times of health crises, including during COVID-19. We believe in transparent, collaborative research and openly sharing results. This approach, carried out to global scientific and ethical standards, has underpinned our work since the Human Genome Project in 1999 and has led to major advances in life sciences as well as a better understanding of biodiversity and the world around us.

Open sharing of scientific tools and discoveries is crucial to providing the greatest benefits for all of humanity. We will continue to advocate for open and inclusive global scientific collaboration with the aim of fighting diseases more effectively and improving the health of mankind.

Source: BGI Group

The U.S. decision “may have been impacted by misinformation and we are willing and able to clarify,” BGI Group said in an emailed response to questions. It didn’t mention Uyghurs or other Muslim minorities but previously has denied it provided technology to surveil them.

BGI Group does not condone and would never be involved in any human-rights abuses,” the company said.

The “entity list” designation requires BGI Research, Forensic Genomics International and BGI Tech Solutions (Hongkong) Co., Ltd. to obtain government permission to acquire sensitive U.S. technology.

Other Chinese companies were cited for their role in the ruling Communist Party’s military modernization or weapons development by Iran and Pakistan and suspected human rights abuses in Myanmar.

Washington has accused China of trying to use civilian companies to obtain processor chip, aerospace and other technologies with possible military or security uses.

Beijing retaliated for earlier U.S. restrictions by creating its own “unreliable entity” list of foreign companies that might endanger China’s national sovereignty, security or development interests.