Chinese AI company delays IPO after US blacklist

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Chinese AI company, SenseTime is postponing its big stock market debut after once again getting caught up in tensions between the US and China, CNN reported.

The Chinese artificial intelligence startup announced Monday that it would delay its widely anticipated initial public offering in Hong Kong, where it had planned to raise up to $767 million. It was set to start trading as soon as this week.

On Friday, the US Treasury Department placed the firm on a list of “Chinese military-industrial complex companies,” in which US President Joe Biden has banned Americans from investing, the report said.

The US Treasury said that SenseTime was sanctioned because of the role its technology plays in enabling human rights abuses against the Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities in Xinjiang — accusations that SenseTime has strongly denied, CNN reported.

The company said in a stock exchange filing Monday that it would postpone the listing “to safeguard the interests of the potential investors of the company” and allow them to “consider the potential impact of” the US move on any investments, the report said.

Investors in Hong Kong who had already applied to take part in the IPO will receive refunds, it added.

SenseTime said that it still “remains committed to completing the global offering and the listing soon.” It noted Monday that it would release an updated prospectus for investors, with a new expected timetable.

Friday’s announcement isn’t the first time SenseTime has run into trouble with Washington. In 2019, the company’s Beijing subsidiary was placed on a US entity list, barring it from buying US products or importing American technology without a special license, the report added.

At that time, the US government also cited concerns about the western Chinese region of Xinjiang, and links that facial recognition software firms like SenseTime had to the region.

While the use of such technology in policing and domestic security is widespread across China, it is especially prevalent in Xinjiang, where up to two million people from Uyghur and other ethnic Muslim minorities have allegedly been put into internment camps, according to the US State Department, the report said.

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