Marco Rubio Calls for Sanctions on Chinese Tech Company Tiandy, Insisting It Helps CCP and Iranian Repression

Last week, U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., sent a letter to U.S. Sec. of State Antony Blinken, U.S. Sec. of the Treasury Janet Yellen, and U.S. Sec. of Commerce Gina Raimondo, calling on their departments to determine whether Tiandy merits U.S. sanctions.

“Chinese technology company Tiandy’s products are used by the Chinese Communist Party to track and torture Uyghur Muslims and other predominantly Muslim ethnic groups in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR). Recent reports reveal Tiandy sells the same technology to the Iranian regime, which may be using it to punish peaceful Iranian protesters,” Rubio’s office noted.

The letter is below.

Dear Secretary Blinken, Secretary Yellen, and Secretary Raimondo:

Recent reporting has shed light on Chinese technology company Tiandy and its support of the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) surveillance regime, which allows Beijing to carry out systemic human rights abuses. Tiandy has also reportedly exported its technology outside of the People’s Republic of China (PRC), including to other authoritarian regimes. I write to urge you to review whether Tiandy has engaged in conduct that may meet the criteria for designation pursuant to Iran human rights sanctions of the Comprehensive Iran Sanctions, Accountability, and Divestment Act; the Global Magnitsky sanctions regime; the Uyghur Human Rights Policy Act of 2020; or any other relevant provision of law.

Tiandy’s chief executive, Dai Lin, is a member of the CCP and served as one of 2,270 delegates to the 18th Party Congress in 2012. Tiandy develops, produces, and markets cameras and related artificial intelligence-enabled software, including an “ethnicity tracking” tool that the company claims can be used to digitally detect someone’s race. PRC officials use Tiandy’s technology to track and torture Uyghurs, and other predominantly Muslim ethnic groups, in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR).

According to human rights activists, the Iranian regime has also begun purchasing advanced facial recognition software from Tiandy. The sale of the same technology to Tehran, including to the regime’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), raises serious questions about whether Tiandy’s products are being used against peaceful Iranian protestors. Tiandy’s publicly available marketing materials also reveal the company makes “smart” interrogation tables for use in the XUAR and elsewhere, which integrate a series of peripheral devices used in the interrogation process. These are for use alongside “tiger chairs,” which have affixed leg irons and handcuffs that restrain occupants, often in very painful positions.

Tiandy is not currently subject to U.S. sanctions or restrictive economic measures. In light of the company’s reported operations in both the XUAR and Iran, I request that you determine and report to the Congress whether Tiandy has engaged in conduct that may meet the criteria for designation pursuant to the authorities provided by Congress. Additionally, if your review determines Tiandy has engaged in conduct that meets the designation criteria, I urge you to take appropriate action at once.

Thank you for your attention to this important matter.

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