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U.S. President Joe Biden listens while meeting virtually with Xi Jinping on Nov. 15. Photo: Sarah Silbiger/UPI/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The Department of Commerce added several Chinese research institutes and tech companies to an export blacklist Thursday for developing technologies that China can use to repress ethnic and religious minority groups in the country.

Why it matters: The new sanctions are the Biden administration's latest move to hold China accountable for what the U.S. has described as a genocide against Uyghur Muslims and other ethnic minorities in Xinjiang province. The list bars U.S. companies from selling technology to the marked companies without a license.

  • The entities marked Thursday include China's Academy of Military Medical Sciences and its 11 research institutes.
  • The department also added companies in Georgia, Malaysia and Turkey for what it said were attempts to divert U.S. items to Iran’s military programs.

What they're saying: “The scientific pursuit of biotechnology and medical innovation can save lives. Unfortunately, the [People's Republic of China] is choosing to use these technologies to pursue control over its people and its repression of members of ethnic and religious minority groups," Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo said in a statement.

  • "We cannot allow U.S. commodities, technologies, and software that support medical science and biotechnical innovation to be diverted toward uses contrary to U.S. national security," Raimondo added.
  • “The U.S. will continue to stand strong against efforts by the PRC and Iran to turn tools that can help humanity prosper into implements that threaten global security and stability.”

The big picture: Separately on Thursday, the Senate is expected to pass a bill that would ban all imports from the Chinese region of Xinjiang unless the U.S. government determines that the products were not made with forced labor.

  • The bill passed the House of Representatives on Wednesday. The White House said President Biden would sign the legislation soon after it passes the Senate.
  • It comes after the Biden administration announced a diplomatic boycott of the upcoming Beijing Winter Olympics over human rights abuses and atrocities in Xinjiang. Several other countries have joined the U.S. in its boycott.
  • The Biden administration also announced sanctions last week against several people and entities with ties to human rights abuses in China, Myanmar, Bangladesh and North Korea.

Go deeper ... Exclusive: Jewish groups urge Biden to take action on Uyghur genocide

Go deeper

Biden's epic failures

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

In the two months since signing the $1 trillion infrastructure bill into law, President Biden has by almost every measure bombed big time on the things that matter most.

The big picture: Biden, who marks one year in office next Thursday, has never been less popular nationally, after personally lobbying his party and the public on Build Back Better and voting rights — and failing.

Updated Jan 14, 2022 - World

North Korea fires projectile in 3rd launch this month, Seoul says

A news broadcast in Seoul, South Korea, on Tuesday of a North Korean missile test. Photo: Anthony Wallace/AFP via Getty Images

North Korea's military fired an "unidentified projectile" eastward on Friday, South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff said, per Yonhap news agency.

Why it matters: North Korea's third launch in just over a week came hours after state media warned that its military would take "stronger and certain reaction" if the U.S. moved to have more sanctions imposed on the country.

Senate Democrats sink Ted Cruz's bill to sanction Nord Stream 2

Sen. Ted Cruz. Photo: Al Drago/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The Senate on Thursday failed to pass a bill sanctioning the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, after the Biden administration aggressively lobbied Democrats to defeat Sen. Ted Cruz's effort to target the Putin-backed project.

Why it matters: The 55-44 vote is the culmination of Cruz's months-long push to force Democrats into an uncomfortable vote on Nord Stream 2, which the Ukrainian government has said is "no less an existential threat to our security" than the tens of thousands of Russian troops massing on its border. The bill needed 60 votes to pass.