US Bars Imports of Cotton, Other Products Made With Forced Labor From Xinjiang

US Bars Imports of Cotton, Other Products Made With Forced Labor From Xinjiang
This photo taken on September 20, 2015 shows Chinese farmers picking cotton in the fields during the harvest season in Hami, in northwest China's Xinjiang region. (STR/AFP via Getty Images)
Cathy He

The Trump administration has banned imports of cotton, hair products, clothing, and other products made with forced labor from China’s Xinjiang region, where the regime has detained more than 1 million Uyghur Muslims and other Muslim minorities.

The U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) on Sept. 14 issued five Withhold Release Orders against various goods made in Xinjiang, cracking down on the regime’s “illicit, inhumane, and exploitative practices of forced labor.”

“These actions send a clear message to the PRC [People’s Republic of China] that it is time to end its practice of state-sponsored forced labor and to respect the human rights of all people,” U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a statement.

The orders come as the United States takes stronger action against the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) over its repression in Xinjiang, where internment camps serve as part of the regime’s purported crackdown on “extremism.”

Survivors of the internment camps have recounted being tortured, raped, and forced to undergo political indoctrination while detained. Xinjiang residents are also subject to an expansive system of surveillance through a network of AI-enhanced security cameras, checkpoints, and the collection of biometric data.

Researchers in March found that tens of thousands of Uyghurs have been transferred to work at factories across China in conditions suggestive of forced labor. Those facilities manufactured goods for 83 global brands.

The CBP orders apply to cotton produced and processed by Xinjiang Junggar Cotton and Linen Co. in Xinjiang; apparel produced by Yili Zhuowan Garment Manufacturing Co. and Baoding LYSZD Trade and Business Co. in Xinjiang; hair products made in the Lop County Hair Product Industrial Park in Xinjiang; all products made with labor from the Lop County No. 4 Vocational Skills Education and Training Center in Xinjiang; and computer parts made by Hefei Bitland Information Technology Co. in Anhui Province.

“The Trump Administration will not stand idly by and allow foreign companies to subject vulnerable workers to forced labor while harming American businesses that respect human rights and the rule of law,” acting CBP Commissioner Mark A. Morgan said in a statement.

Earlier this year, the United States sanctioned several Chinese officials and a paramilitary group over their roles in overseeing abuses in Xinjiang. Dozens of Chinese entities and companies also have been blacklisted from doing business with U.S. firms.
The CBP in June seized 13 tons of human hair products suspected to have been made with forced labor from Xinjiang.