The Joe Biden government has announced its first series of wide sanctions against the countries of Myanmar, Bangladesh, China and North Korea parallel to America's hosting of the 'Summit for Democracy', a two day meeting with over 100 world leaders who have vowed to push back against rising autocracy and human rights violations across the world.
Chinese company SenseTime has been placed on a blacklist by the US Treasury as it is accused of having developed advanced facial recognition software that can identify ethnicities of people, which is being used tk target the Uighur minority in China, the US claims. China has denied the accusations and has termed the investor blacklist as a "severe violation of basic norms governing international relations", as per Reuters.
The Treasury said it was 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 coup on February 1.
Human rights groups have called for global action against the Myanmar military junta which they said has brutally cracked down on opposition and minorities alike, including the Rohingya refugees.
North Korea's Central Public Prosecutors Office, along with the former minister of social security and recently assigned Minister of People's Armed Forces Ri Yong Gil have also been put on a blacklist, although punishing sanctions against the country by the US have become the norm.
Biden said on Friday that commitments made by some of the more than 100 world leaders at the summit would push back against rising autocracy around the world, fight corruption and promote human rights.
"This is going to help seed fertile ground for democracy to bloom around the world," he said in a speech closing the summit.
While citing studies that showed a global trend in restrictions on individual and democratic freedoms, Biden admitted that the US too had also come under fire for its own mistakes in administration, including recent protests over voter suppression laws. The Summit was also used to announce a $424 million budget for supporting civil rights and media rights in the places that most needed it.
The US Agency for International Development (USaid) will also establish a global "defamation defence fund" to provide liability coverage for investigative journalists against what Biden described as "nuisance lawsuits designed to prevent them from doing their vital work around the world.