United States has imposed extensive human rights-related sanctions on dozens of people and entities tied to China, Myanmar and North Korea. US also added Chinese artificial intelligence company SenseTime Group, specializing in facial recognition technology, to an investment blacklist. The sanctions are intended to freeze the targeted people and entities out of the global financial system.

Canada and the United Kingdom joined the US in imposing sanctions related to human rights abuses in Myanmar, while Washington also imposed the first new sanctions on North Korea under President Joe Biden's administration and targeted Myanmar military entities, among others, in action marking Human Rights Day.

In a statement, US Deputy Treasury Secretary Wally Adeyemo said our actions, particularly those in partnership with the UK and Canada, send a message that democracies around the world will act against those who abuse the power of the state to inflict suffering and repression.

The US Treasury Department added Chinese artificial intelligence company SenseTime to a list of Chinese military-industrial complex companies, accusing it of having developed facial recognition programmes that can determine a target’s ethnicity, with a particular focus on identifying ethnic Uyghurs. As a result the company will fall under an investment ban for US investors.

The US also targeted three Chinese companies, including Moxing Cartoon, Nings Cartoon Studio, and Shanghai Hongman Cartoon and Animation Design Studio, as part of North Korea-related sanctions, it added.

The US Treasury said it is imposing sanctions on two Myanmar military entities and an organization that provides reserves for the military. The Directorate of Defense Industries, one of the entities targeted, makes weapons for the military and police that have been used in a brutal crackdown on opponents of the military’s February 1, coup.

US also targeted four regional chief ministers, including Myo Swe Win, who heads the junta’s administration in the Bago region where the Treasury said at least 82 people were killed in a single day in April.

Canada imposed sanctions against four entities affiliated with the Myanmar military government, while the UK imposed fresh sanctions against the military.

The US also blacklisted North Korea’s Central Public Prosecutors Office had been designated, along with the former minister of social security and recently assigned Minister of People’s Armed Forces Ri Yong Gil, as well as a Russian university for facilitating the export of workers from North Korea.

The US State Department also barred 12 people from traveling to the US, including officials in China, Belarus and Sri Lanka.

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