U.S. Bans Cotton And Tomato Imports from Xinjiang Citing Use Of Uyghur Prison And Forced Labor By China

Swarajya Staff

Jan 14, 2021, 06:48 PM | Updated 06:48 PM IST

U.S. Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) has announced a ban on imports of cotton and tomatoes from the Xinjiang region in China over Beijing’s use of forced labour.

The ban comes to effect from Jan 13 at all U.S. ports of entry

The agency said the region-wide ban was "based on information that reasonably indicates the use of detainee or prison labor and situations of forced labor". The agency said that it has found examples of debt bondage, restriction of movement, isolation, intimidation and threats, withholding of wages, and abusive living and working conditions.

“CBP will not tolerate the Chinese government’s exploitation of modern slavery to import goods into the United States below fair market value,” said CBP Acting Commissioner Mark A. Morgan. “Imports made on the cheap by using forced labor hurt American businesses that respect human rights and also expose unsuspecting consumers to unethical purchases.”

The U.S State Department estimates that more than 1 million Uyghurs, as well as members of other Muslim minority groups, have been detained in a sprawling network of internment camps in Xinjiang.

“Forced labor is a form of modern slavery,” Acting Deputy Secretary of Homeland Security (DHS) Kenneth Cuccinelli told reporters on Wednesday. “‘Made in China’ doesn’t just indicate country of origin—it’s a warning label.”

“DHS will not tolerate forced labor of any kind in U.S. supply chains. We will continue to protect the American people and investigate credible allegations of forced labor, we will prevent goods made by forced labor from entering our country, and we demand the Chinese close their camps and stop their human rights violations,” added Ken Cuccinelli.

Around 20 percent of the world’s cotton is picked in Xinjiang, and the region is also a major exporter of tomatoes, which are used to make ketchup for the U.S. market. The U.S. imported $9 billion in cotton products and $10 million in tomatoes from China in 2019

in July 2020, the U.S. Government had issued an advisory cautioning businesses about the reputational, financial, and legal risks of forced labor in Xinjiang, where the Chinese government continues to execute a campaign of repression targeting the Uyghur people and other ethnic and religious minority groups.

Get Swarajya in your inbox.