China Sanctions US Firm Kharon, Provider of Research on Xinjiang

Beijing — China’s foreign ministry said it had sanctioned Kharon, a U.S. firm founded by former Treasury Department officials that provides data to companies on alleged forced labor in the Xinjiang region to help them comply with U.S. laws.

The foreign ministry said on Tuesday it would take “countermeasures” against Kharon and its director of investigations for providing “so-called evidence for America’s illegal sanctions related to Xinjiang.”

In response, Los-Angeles based Kharon said it had no presence in China, so the action was “largely symbolic” and would not impact its operations or ability to service its clients.

“In service of our clients and all global businesses that seek to implement leading risk management programs, Kharon will continue to provide research and data analytics that is objective, independent, and based on reliable sources,” it said in a statement.

A former researcher of the U.S.-based Center for Advanced Defense Studies will also be subject to sanctions.

The affected individuals will be banned from entering China, including Hong Kong and Macau, and the property of Kharon in China will be frozen, the ministry said.

Kharon said companies depend on its forced labor data to comply with the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act (UFLPA).

The act was signed into U.S. law in 2021 to deny entry to goods from listed companies originating from the Chinese region of Xinjiang unless they can prove they were not produced with or tied to forced labor.

The United States this month curbed imports from three more Chinese firms including Sichuan Jingweida Technology Group, previously found by Kharon to have participated in labor transfers in 2017 in which thousands of workers were sent to work at various production facilities.

U.S. officials say they believe Chinese authorities have established labor camps for Uyghurs and other Muslim minority groups in Xinjiang. Beijing denies any abuses.

The Xinjiang-related sanctions are based on “lies” and “false narratives,” according to Beijing, which says the U.S. is bent on undermining Xinjiang’s stability and curbing China’s development.