The United States on December 2 announced a ban on cotton imports from China over information that indicates the use of forced labour in Xinjiang province. The US Department of Homeland Security announced on Wednesday that Customs and Border Protection (CBP) personnel at US ports will detain all cotton products originating from the Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps (XPCC). China has been accused of persecuting the minority Uighur population in the Xinjiang province.
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CBP’s Office of Trade directed the issuance of a Withhold Release Order (WRO), which applies to all cotton imports from Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps (XPCC), including garments, textile, and apparel. The WRO on XPCC is the sixth such action that CBP has announced in the past three months directed against the use of forced labour in Xinjiang province.
“The US Department of Homeland Security announced today that US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) personnel at all US ports of entry will detain shipments containing cotton and cotton products originating from the Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps (XPCC),” the release said on Wednesday.
“The WRO applies to all cotton and cotton products produced by the XPCC and its subordinate and affiliated entities as well as any products that are made in whole or in part with or derived from that cotton, such as apparel, garments, and textiles,” the release added.
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‘China’s systemic abuse’
Xinjiang is home to some 11 million Uighurs, of which an estimated 1 million have been subject to torture, forced labour, sexual and physical abuses by the Chinese State. Media reports suggest that China has detained a large number of Uighur Muslims in centres that it calls “re-educational camps”. Media reports also suggest that China is targetting Uighur women through forced abortion and sterilization in order to control the birth rate. The alleged human rights abuses in Xinjiang have prompted sanctions from the United States, which in 2020 alone has issued eight WRO orders on goods made by forced labour in China.
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“China’s systemic abuse of forced labor in the Xinjiang Region should disturb every American business and consumer. Forced labor is a human rights violation that hurts vulnerable workers and introduces unfair competition into global supply chains. CBP will continue taking decisive action to prevent goods made with forced labor from entering the United States,” CBP Acting Commissioner Mark A. Morgan said in a statement.
In July this year, the US government had issued an advisory cautioning American businesses about the use of forced labour in China’s Xinjiang province. The prohibition on products suspected of made by forced labour is issued by the Forced Labour Division of CBP’s Office of Trade, established in 2018.
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(Image Credit: AP)