US bans import on Chinese products from Uighur ‘forced labour’

Chinese products
Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Mark Morgan speaks during a press conference in Washington, D.C. | Samuel Corum/Getty Images

The US announced Monday it would block a range of Chinese products made by “forced labour” in the Xinjiang region, including from a “vocational” centre that it branded a “concentration camp” for Uighur minorities.

In a statement on Monday, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) said the products subject to the import ban are cotton, apparel, computer parts, and hair products. The fifth ban is on all products made with labour from the Lop County Number 4 Vocational Skills Education and Training Center in Xinjiang.

US bans import on Chinese products

These goods are produced with state-sponsored forced labour in Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, where the Chinese government is engaged in systemic human rights abuses against the Uyghur people and other ethnic and religious minorities, the DHS statement said.

The US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) had earlier issued five Withhold Release Orders (WRO) to uphold the ban.

The WROs prevent goods from being imported into the US when there are accusations of forced labour.

Uighur Muslims

“The Trump Administration has led the world in calling attention to the Chinese Communist Party’s (CPC) egregious human rights abuses in Xinjiang, and we’ve taken action to back up our rhetoric,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said.

“These actions send a clear message to the PRC (People’s Republic of China) that it is time to end its practice of state-sponsored forced labour and to respect the human rights of all people,” he said.

In line with the WROs, the CBP will now detain shipments of these goods. The ban on goods produced using forced labour is in line with the US customs laws.

“These orders demonstrate that the world will not stand for the PRC’s human rights abuses against Uighurs and members of other Muslim minority groups in Xinjiang, which include subjecting individuals to forced labour and stripping them of their freedom and agency to choose how and where they work,” Mr. Pompeo said.

President Donald Trump’s administration is ratcheting up pressure on China over its treatment of Uighur Muslims in Xinjiang, where the United Nations cites credible reports as saying 1 million Muslims held in camps have been put to work.

The Chinese embassy in Washington referred to past Chinese Foreign Ministry statements rejecting allegations of forced labor in Xinjiang and criticizing the United States for meddling in China’s internal affairs in the Xinjiang region.


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