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John Kerry, wife own $1 million stake in Chinese investment group involved in human rights abuses

The company the Kerrys are invested in has been blacklisted by the U.S. government since 2019

Published: October 14, 2021 7:04am

Updated: October 14, 2021 7:42am

Special climate envoy John Kerry and his wife reportedly have at least $1 million invested with a group that is a major funder of the Chinese artificial intelligence sector.

The company with which the Kerrys are invested is called Hillhouse China Value Fund L.P., which is a top shareholder in YITU Technology, a firm that has been blacklisted by the United States for human rights abuses against the Uyghur people, according to the Washington Free Beacon.

YITU is involved with the project that helped develop a facial recognition and surveillance program for the Chinese government that identifies individuals by race and ethnicity. 

As climate envoy, he has been involved in a number of diplomatic discussions with China – the world's foremost producer of greenhouse gases.

The Chinese government recently set a goal of becoming the global leader in artificial intelligence by the start of the next decade. U.S. military and national security experts have expressed concern that the country is using AI technology to exert control over dissidents and persecuted groups within their borders. 

Several years ago, the Commerce Department under the Trump administration placed YITU on a blacklist of trade restricted companies for being "implicated in human rights violations and abuses in the implementation of China's campaign of repression, mass arbitrary detention, and high-technology surveillance against Uyghurs, Kazakhs, and other members of Muslim minority groups."

Kerry has previously said that discussing China's slave labor practices with the sometimes-hostile foreign government is "not my lane." Just last month, he said that "life is full of tough choices," when asked if the Biden administration was trading the advancement of climate change discussions with the Chinese government for a blind-eye toward flagrant human rights abuses against the Uyghurs. 

"Yes we have a issues, a number of different issues, but first and foremost, this planet must be protected," Kerry said. 

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