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A farmer harvests cotton in a field in October in Hami, Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region of China. Photo: Pulati Niyazi/VCG via Getty Images

The Trump administration announced Wednesday the U.S. will block imports of cotton products from the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region of China because of forced labor concerns.

Why it matters: The plan to seize the cotton shipments from a powerful Chinese quasi-military group is the latest U.S. response to China's detention of over 1 million Uighur Muslims in internment camps.

  • Per Axios' Jonathan Swan and Bethany Allen-Ebrahimian, President Trump is stepping up hardline policies against China in his final weeks in office, with a goal of making it politically untenable for the Biden administration to change course.

The big picture: The CBP issued a "Withhold Release Order" on the Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps products after obtaining information "that reasonably indicates the use of forced labor, including convict labor," the Department of Homeland Security said in a statement.

  • It's the sixth enforced action by U.S. Customs and Border Protection in response to the China's detention camps.
  • The Trump administration has also sanctioned Chinese officials for human rights abuses against Uighur Muslims and other ethnic minorities in Xinjiang.
  • Meanwhile, the House passed a bill in September to ban products made with forced labor in the detention camps. The Senate has yet to take up the legislation.

What they're saying: DHS Acting Deputy Secretary Ken Cuccinelli said during a news conference that "'Made in China is not just a country of origin it is a warning label."

"Those cheap cotton goods you may be buying for family and friends during the season of giving, if coming from China, may have been made by slave labor in some of the most egregious human rights violations existing today."

Of note: President-elect Biden has pledged to conduct a full review of the current U.S. policy on China and speak with key allies in Asia and Europe to "develop a coherent strategy."

Go deeper

Jan 26, 2021 - World

Former Google CEO and others call for U.S.-China tech "bifurcation"

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

A new set of proposals by a group of influential D.C. insiders and tech industry practitioners calling for a degree of "bifurcation" in the U.S. and Chinese tech sectors is circulating in the Biden administration. Axios has obtained a copy.

Why it matters: The idea of "decoupling" certain sectors of the U.S. and Chinese economies felt radical three years ago, when Trump's trade war brought the term into common parlance. But now the strategy has growing bipartisan and even industry support.

European Super League faces collapse after English soccer teams quit

Fans of Chelsea Football Club protest the European Super League outside Stamford Bridge soccer stadium in London, England. Photo: Rob Pinney/Getty Images

The European Super League announced in a statement Tuesday night it's "proposing a new competition" and considering the next steps after all six English soccer clubs pulled out of the breakaway tournament.

Why it matters: The announcement that 12 of the richest clubs in England, Spain and Italy would start a new league was met with backlash from fans, soccer stars and politicians. The British government had threatened to pass legislation to stop it from going ahead.

Corporate America finds downside to politics

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Corporate America is finding it can get messy when it steps into politics.

Why it matters: Urged on by shareholders, employees and its own company creeds, Big Business is taking increasing stands on controversial political issues during recent months — and now it's beginning to see the fallout.