China AI firm whose facial recognition tech helps in racial profiling relists IPO in HK after US crackdown, Business & Economy News

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SenseTime, a Chinese artificial intelligence start-up, has revived its initial public offering, proceeding with Hong Kong listing on Monday (December 20). 

The decision comes a week after it was blacklisted by the United States over accusations of racial profiling via its facial recognition technology. The implication is that the company’s technology helped identify or do suveillence of Uyghur Muslims, thereby assisting China’s  alleged human rights abuses and genocide in the Xinjiang region. 

The company has filed a revised listing with the Hong Kong stock exchange on Monday. The trading is expected to start on December 30. 

“Due to the dynamic and evolving nature of the relevant US regulations, we have required to exclude US investors,” the company wrote.

Bloomberg News reported that SenseTime had secured about $512 million from nine cornerstone investors, including state-backed Mixed-Ownership Reform Fund and Shanghai Xuhui Capital Investment Company.

The company is still planning to hit the pre-blacklisting $767 million target with 1.5 billion shares at HK$3.85 to HK$3.99 per share.

Why did the US blacklist SenseTime? 

US accuses SenseTime of being part of China’s “military-industrial complex” that provides technology for mass surveillance in Xinjiang. 

It says SenseTime has developed and deployed facial recognition software that can determine a person’s ethnicity, including whether someone looks Uyghur.

SenseTime refuted the blacklisting, saying that the accusations were unfounded and emphasised that the company was “caught in the middle of geopolitical tension”.

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