US to block Chinese imports of cotton and tomatoes over potential ties to Uighur slave labor.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection made the announcement on Wednesday, warning that it believes products made in the Xinjiang region indicate the possible use of prison and forced labor.
“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 Morgan in a statement. “Imports made on the cheap by using forced labor hurt American businesses that respect human rights and also expose unsuspecting consumers to unethical purchases.”
All CBP personnel at U.S. ports of entry will now detain cotton and tomato products grown or produced in Xinjiang. The products could include apparel, textiles, canned tomatoes, seeds and sauce, and other goods made with cotton and tomatoes.
China has faced growing criticism around the world about its alleged treatment of Uighurs, a Muslim ethnic group living in the country. About a million are believed to be subjected to internment camps, where they are subjected to forced labor and reeducation programs.
Though China has put up barriers to prevent close investigations into the activities in Xinjiang, an Australian think tank last year identified what it believes was an expansion of detention centers through a focus of satellite images of new lights in low-population areas.
China reiterated its longtime denial of forced labor and said it opposed the move to blacklist its products.
“China is firmly opposed to this,” Zhao Lijian, a spokesman for China’s Foreign Ministry, said, according to a report by Fox News. “Forced labor is the biggest lie of the century, made by persons and agencies in some Western countries, including the United States, with an aim to restrict and suppress the relevant Chinese authorities and companies and contain China’s development.”
Original Author: Mica Soellner