On Monday SenseTime, one of China’s biggest AI solution providers announced that it was putting its intention to list on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange on hold. The news comes weeks after the company received regulatory approvals to list on the Hong Kong Stock Market and days after the US Department of Treasury included the company to a list of what is called “Chinese military-industrial complex companies”. The department claims that SenseTime “has developed facial recognition programs that can determine a target’s ethnicity, with a particular focus on identifying ethnic Uyghurs”. Investors from the US have been barred from buying or selling publicly traded securities of Chinese companies.
The blacklisting of SenseTime follows a quite similar action about two years ago. In 2019, the company was included in the US Entity List which hindered business relations between the company and American companies.
SenseTime has come out to give a statement in response to the claims of the US Department of Treasury. The statement reads; “We strongly oppose the designation and accusations that have been made in connection with it. These accusations are unfounded and reflect a fundamental misperception of our company. We regret to have been caught in the middle of geopolitical tension”. The company is already planning to publish a supplementary prospectus with a new listing timetable to “safeguard the interests” of its potential investors.
SenseTime, headquartered in Hong Kong, was founded in 2014 by
Tang Xiao’ou and Xu Li. The company develops technologies including facial recognition, image recognition, object detection, optical character recognition, medical image analysis, video analysis, autonomous driving, and remote sensing, and has other offices in China, Singapore, Japan, Abu Dhabi and the US. Alongside Megvii, CloudWalk and Yitu, SenseTime is christened as one of China’s four “AI Dragons”.