US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) yesterday issued five withhold release orders (WROs) on products, including apparel and cotton, imported from china. Imports that are produced with state-sponsored forced labour in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR), where Beijing “is engaged in systemic human rights abuses against the Uyghur people and other ethnic and religious minorities”.
“By taking this action, DHS [the Department of Homeland Security] is combating illegal and inhumane forced labour, a type of modern slavery, used to make goods that the Chinese government then tries to import into the United States. When China attempts to import these goods into our supply chains, it also disadvantages American workers and businesses,” said acting DHS deputy secretary Ken Cuccinelli in a CBP press release.
The United Nations has said it has credible reports that a million Muslims have been detained in camps in the region, where they are put to forced labour. China says the camps are vocational training centres needed to fight extremism.
China is the world’s largest importer of cotton, including from the United States. It could also boost cotton imports into China in the short term.
The State Department also said it sent a letter to top American companies including Walmart Inc, Apple Inc and Amazon.com Inc warning them over risks faced from maintaining supply chains associated with human rights abuses in the Xinjiang region.