Sep 14, 2020 - World

U.S. bans some imports of cotton, other products from Xinjiang made with forced labor

Cotton in Xinjiang

A tractor sowing cotton seeds on April 5 in Xinjiang. Photo: VCG via Getty Images

U.S. Customs and Border Protection issued a series of orders on Monday barring some imports of cotton, apparel, hair products, computer parts and other goods from China's Xinjiang region due to the government's "illicit, inhumane, and exploitative practices of forced labor."

Why it matters: The Trump administration is taking an increasingly aggressive approach to human rights abuses in Xinjiang, where the Chinese government is engaged in a sweeping campaign of demographic and cultural genocide against Uighur Muslims and other ethnic minorities.

Details: The CBP orders apply to the following imports ...

  1. All products made with labor from the Lop County No. 4 Vocational Skills Education and Training Center in Xinjiang
  2. Hair products made in the Lop County Hair Product Industrial Park in Xinjiang
  3. Apparel produced by Yili Zhuowan Garment Manufacturing Co., Ltd. and Baoding LYSZD Trade and Business Co., Ltd in Xinjiang
  4. Cotton produced and processed by Xinjiang Junggar Cotton and Linen Co., Ltd. in Xinjiang
  5. Computer parts made by Hefei Bitland Information Technology Co., Ltd. in Anhui

What they're saying: "The Trump administration will not stand idly by and allow foreign companies to subject vulnerable workers to forced labor while harming American businesses that respect human rights and the rule of law,” Acting CBP Commissioner Mark Morgan said in a statement.

  • “Today’s Withhold Release Orders send a clear message to the international community that we will not tolerate the illicit, inhumane, and exploitative practices of forced labor in U.S. supply chains.”

The big picture: President Trump told Axios in June that he previously held off on sanctioning officials and entities involved in the detention camps because doing so would have interfered with his trade deal with Beijing.

  • In July, the U.S. sanctioned Chinese Communist Party officials, the Xinjiang Public Security Bureau and the Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps (XPCC) for their role in constructing and operating massive "re-education" camps, where over 1 million Uighurs have been detained.
  • The XPCC, a paramilitary organization, is involved in the production of one-third of China's cotton, and in 2014, XPCC-controlled interests comprised 17% of Xinjiang's economy.

Go deeper: U.S. seizes $800,000 shipment of Xinjiang products made with human hair

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