US bans Chinese textile products over Uyghur forced labor

Washington DC - US authorities have blocked imports from 26 Chinese cotton companies thought to be linked with enslaved Uyghur minorities in western China.

Uyghurs are being rounded up and put into forced labor camps in China's Xinjiang province.
Uyghurs are being rounded up and put into forced labor camps in China's Xinjiang province.  © Pedro PARDO/AFP

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) on Thursday announced that 26 entities, all textile-based companies, would be added to the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act Entity List (UFLPA).

President Joe Biden signed the UFLPA into law on December 23, 2021. Its role is to guarantee that no American entities are either directly or indirectly funding the ongoing forced labor of Uyghur people in China's western Xinjiang province.

Cotton manufacturers targeted by the latest crackdown will be unable to sell or transport their goods in the United States. A press release issued by the DHS said that the ban will "increase transparency and ensure responsible companies can conduct due diligence on their supply chains."

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Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas said that the US government's decision to continue adding thought to be engaged in the alleged enslavement of Uyghur people "strengthens our enforcement of the UFLPA."

Mayorkas went on to explain that the move "helps responsible companies conduct due diligence so that, together, we can keep the products of forced labor out of our country."

"We will continue to execute on our textile enforcement strategy and hold the PRC accountable for their exploitation and abuse of the Uyghur people."

Chinese authorities say that UFLPA actions an attempt to "disrupt stability" in Xinjiang

In Xinjiang, propaganda signs promote the idea of ethnic unity.
In Xinjiang, propaganda signs promote the idea of ethnic unity.  © Pedro PARDO/AFP

Accusations continue to surround the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) that members of the Uyghur Muslim minority group, primarily located in China's Xinjiang province, are being rounded up and imprisoned.

The US Department of Labor issued a report on the situation in Xinjiang, saying that authorities in the People's Republic of China (PRC) have "arbitrarily detained more than one million Uyghurs and other mostly Muslim minorities."

"It is estimated that 100,000 Uyghurs and other ethnic minority ex-detainees in China may be working in conditions of forced labor following detention in re-education camps."

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Many human rights organizations are concerned that ongoing detention and violence could be potentially considered an ongoing "genocide." It is in this context that further companies are being added to the UFLPA.

Reuters reports that a spokesperson for the Chinese embassy in Washington said of the latest crackdown that "The so-called 'Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act' is just an instrument of a few US politicians to disrupt stability in Xinjiang and contain China's development."

This isn't the first time that the PRC has criticized US actions on Uyghur forced labor, either. After the UFLPA passed in late 2021, a foreign ministry spokesperson for the CCP said that it "maliciously denigrates the human rights situation in China’s Xinjiang in disregard of facts and truth.

"It seriously violates international law and basic norms governing international relations and grossly interferes in China's internal affairs," the spokesperson said.

"The so-called allegations of 'forced labor' and 'genocide' in Xinjiang are nothing but vicious lies concocted by anti-China forces."

Cover photo: Pedro PARDO/AFP

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