A Chinese artificial intelligence company called SenseTime said on Monday that it had postponed its $770 million initial public offering after its work for Beijing landed it on an American government blacklist.
The company said in a filing with Hong Kong’s stock exchange that it “remains committed” to completing a listing but did not offer a new timetable. It said investors who had applied to buy shares could get refunds.
SenseTime is one of a number of Chinese companies that has drawn condemnation from American officials and human rights groups for the help they provide the Chinese government in its fast-growing and widening surveillance systems.
The company in particular has drawn scrutiny for the services it provides to China’s efforts to track and suppress Uyghurs and other largely Muslim ethnic minorities who live in a western Chinese region called Xinjiang. The New York Times reported in 2019 that SenseTime’s A.I. technology had been used as part of an effort to identify and track Uyghurs using facial recognition.
Several months later, the U.S. Commerce Department under President Donald J. Trump placed SenseTime and other Chinese technology companies on a blacklist for their role in developing China’s security systems. That blacklist limited their ability to sell to American customers.
President Biden has maintained that pressure. On Friday, the U.S. Treasury Department added SenseTime to a list of Chinese companies that American investors can’t buy shares in.
SenseTime has said it complies with all laws and has denied wrongdoing. “The accusations are unfounded and reflect a fundamental misperception of our company,” it said in a statement dated Saturday. “We regret to have been caught in the middle of geopolitical tension.”
Two years ago, a company spokeswoman told the Times that it had been unaware that its software was being used to track Muslims.