Thermo Fisher, the scientific instrument manufacturer, opted to halt sales of HID products in a significant Chinese area by mid-2023. This decision reminisces of a previous move by the company in 2019 to cease selling genetic sequencing equipment in China’s Xinjiang region. Reports suggest that the Chinese administration’s control over Tibet and the alleged detention of Uyghurs and Muslims in Xinjiang may have influenced this move. Interestingly, shareholders have applauded this decision, citing potential human rights abuse issues. Still, Thermo Fisher has not explicitly outlined the reason for its decision.
Thermo Fisher’s Decision
“Sales have followed routine forensic investigations in this region,” stated Thermo Fisher, but
“based on an analysis of several factors, we decided to stop the sales of HID products in this area by mid-2023.”
China’s Control Over Tibet
In 1950, China claimed dominion over Tibet, depicting it as a peaceful liberation act that extricated the isolated Himalayan region from its feudalistic past. Subsequently, China faced accusations of clamping down religious and cultural freedoms in the predominantly Buddhist area, a charge which Beijing has continually dismissed.
Earlier Stance of Thermo Fisher on China
Thermo Fisher’s unnamed representative chose not to elucidate the reasons behind this decision, echoing the company’s earlier announcement in 2019 to halt the sale of genetic sequencing devices in another part of China, Xinjiang.
Human Rights Enforcement within China
A report published in August 2022 by U.N.’s High Commissioner for Human Rights suggested that China’s detention of Uyghurs and Muslims in Xinjiang could amount to crimes against humanity, a claim vigorously denied by China. Human rights activist groups and media organizations have also reported that Xinjiang authorities are building a DNA database of Uyghurs, which has also been denied by officials.
Thermo Fisher’s latest restriction on its China sales, first divulged by Axios, was commended by certain shareholders, who point out the possibility that law enforcement agencies could misuse such technology to perpetrate human rights abuses.
Next Steps for Thermo Fisher
Thermo Fisher’s Vice President and Secretary, Julia Chen, stated that the company would “implement controls” resembling the ones adopted for halting certain product sales in Xinjiang.
Azzad Asset Management did not immediately respond to a request for commentary on the letter while Thermo Fisher’s spokesperson declined to comment on the letter and the delay between the decision to cease sales and the establishment of the ban.
China’s State Council’s Response
China’s State Council did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Impact on Forex and Trading
This decision by Thermo Fisher and the potential uncertainty it causes could affect the trading environment, particularly the assets of multinational companies dealing with China.