CBP Issues Detention Order on Forced-Labor Hair Products From China’s Xinjiang

June 18, 2020 Updated: June 18, 2020

U.S. Customs officials on June 17 issued a detention order on hair products with links to forced labor in Xinjiang, China, to prevent the items from reaching stores in the United States.

In a statement, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) said that starting Wednesday, customs officials would detain imported merchandise “made wholly or in part with hair products” produced by Meixin Hair Product Co. Ltd. in Xinjiang’s Lop County.

CBP said it placed a withhold release order (WRO) on the products “as part of its trade enforcement responsibilities.”

The agency said it based its decision on information that “reasonably indicated” the use of prison labor with additional situations of forced labor including, but not limited to, excessive overtime, withholding of wages and restriction of movement.

“CBP has reasonable suspicion that merchandise was mined, manufactured, or produced wholly or in part with forced labor,” CBP Office of Trade tweeted Wednesday.

Under the WRO, the Meixin products will be detained at all U.S. ports of entry, according to the release.

“As part of its trade enforcement responsibilities, CBP will continue to vigilantly monitor U.S.-bound supply chains for links to forced labor and will take swift enforcement actions to deter and disrupt the importation of merchandise made with forced labor,” Brenda Smith, executive assistant commissioner of CBP’s Office of Trade said in a statement.

“The use of forced labor is not just a serious human rights issue, but also brings about unfair competition in our global supply chains.”

All importers of detained shipments will be provided by CBP with an opportunity to either export the shipments, or show that the products were not produced with forced labor, the federal law enforcement agency said.

Epoch Times Photo
A container ship berthing at the port in Qingdao, in China’s eastern Shandong province on May 17, 2019. (STR/AFP/Getty Images)

The border agency last month issued a WRO against merchandise produced by a separate company—Hetian Haolin Hair Accessories Co. Ltd.—operating in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, where Uyghur Muslims and other ethnic minorities are being held in a vast network of internment camps and forced labor facilities.

It said it had information that “reasonably indicates” use of forced labor by Haolin.

According to figures quoted by the U.S. Congressional-Executive Commission on China and the U.N., as many as one million Uyghurs and other ethnic minorities are believed to be detained in the reeducation facilities, which Beijing says are to “educate and transform” those whom the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) deems at risk of the “three evil forces” of “extremism, separatism, and terrorism.”

Mounting evidence suggests that detainees are being exploited as forced labor in the camps-turned-training centers. Former Uyghur detainees have told The Epoch Times that they were subject to torture, forced to denounce their faith, and forced to pledge loyalty to the CCP while held for unknown reasons in often overcrowded facilities.

A report released by an Australian think tank in early March said tens of thousands of ethnic Uyghurs were moved to work in conditions suggestive of forced labor in factories across China supplying 83 global brands.

The announcement from the CBP came as President Donald Trump on Wednesday signed legislation calling for sanctions against those responsible for the repression of Uyghurs in China’s northwestern province.

The bill, which passed the U.S. Congress nearly unanimously, was intended to send China a strong message on human rights by mandating sanctions against those responsible for oppression of members of China’s Muslim minority.

Reuters contributed to this report.