US Bans Some Imports Made With Forced Labor From China's Xinjiang

Daniel Fowler
September 15, 2020

The administration of US President Donald Trump has banned imports of some Chinese products it says are made using forced labor.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the directives to ban the goods, known as Withhold Release Orders (WROs), "demonstrate that the world will not stand for" China's "human rights abuses against Uyghurs and members of other Muslim minority groups in Xinjiang, which include subjecting individuals to forced labor and stripping them of their freedom and agency to choose how and where they work".

The flags of the United States and China are displayed as President Donald Trump and the Chinese leader, Xi Jinping, meet at the G20 Summit in Osaka, Japan, on June 29, 2019.

CBP issued what is known as a "withhold release order", that blocks shipments from the companies and facility at USA ports unless companies involved can prove the goods were produced without the use of forced labor.

The measure would allow United States customs agents to detain and potentially destroy goods brought into the country that are made by the named companies or entities in Xinjiang, a far western region where China has detained as many as 1 million Uighurs and other ethnic minorities in internment camps and prisons.

In a briefing with reporters Monday, officials with the Department of Homeland Security said that the broader measure was undergoing further legal analysis, and that more announcements could soon follow. All WROs are publicly available and listed by country on CBP's Forced Labor Withhold Release Orders and Findings webpage.

CBP officials said they are now studying a measure to place a block on all cotton and tomatoes from Xinjiang.

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The 1930 Tariff Act prohibits imports produced with prison or slave labor to ensure fair competition with US manufacturers.

The United States, like other Western countries and many worldwide organizations, accuses Beijing of carrying out large-scale persecution of Uyghurs and of arbitrarily interning more than one million Muslims in Xinjiang in camps.

The Trump administration is stepping up pressure on China over human rights issues. Ltd. and Baoding LYSZD Trade and Business Co.

China also had agreed to purchase increased quantities of USA cotton under the countries' Phase 1 trade deal, which could be put at risk by a US ban on imports from China's dominant cotton-producing region.

When CBP blocks imports, shippers can either pull them back or challenge the ruling and attempt to prove the products were not made through forced labor or other violations.

It also halted shipments from the Junggar Cotton and Linen Co., and Hefei Bitland Information Technology Co., which it says uses prison and forced labor to make computer parts.

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