US bans Chinese tech products and apparel, citing forced labor
The US government administration announced new restrictions on imports of apparel, hair products, and technology goods from certain Chinese companies. The order was passed by the US government saying that those entities had used forced labor in the Xinjiang region to make their products.
The restrictionswill allow US customs agents to detain and potentially destroy goods brought into the country that are made by the named companies or entities in Xinjiang.
The move comes as part of the Trump administration’s efforts to crack down on China for its persecution of the Uighur Muslim minority group.
Xinjiang a region in China has detained as many as 1 million Uighurs and other ethnic minorities in internment camps and prisons. Beijing refers to the camps as re-education camps and says they provide vocational training and it is necessary to fight extremism.
The move will further increase tensions between the US and China. Theorder haswarned apparel companies using Chinese cotton. Administration officials are worried that this could hurt economic relations with China and prompt possible retaliation on the USgrown cotton.
In a brief Department of Homeland Security officials said that the broader measure was undergoing legal analysis and that more announcements are soon to follow.
The border agency said that the release orders announced by Customs and Border Protection target all products made with labor from the Lop County No. 4 Vocational Skills Education and Training Center in Xinjiang. The centers are responsible for providing prison labor to nearby manufacturing units.
The orders will also restrict hair products made in the Lop County Hair Product Industrial Park, apparel produced by Yili Zhuowan Garment Manufacturing Co. and Baoding LYSZD Trade and Business Co., cotton produced and processed by Xinjiang Junggar Cotton and Linen Co., and also computer parts made by Hefei Bitland Information Technology Co.
The economic value of the order was not very clear, and border agency officials have denied specifying the financial value of imports from these companies.
US law bans the importof any goods produced with forced labor. However, as per human rights groups the practice has long been widespread in Xinjiang, where many detainees are recruited into programs that assign them to work in factories, on cotton farms, or in textile mills.
Due to the tensions of President Donald Trump’s trade war and growing concern on human rights abuses in Xinjiang, some major apparel brands have tried to avoid exposure tothe region in recent years, by moving their textile and clothing operations to Bangladesh, Indonesia and Vietnam.
In July, the departments of State, Treasury, Commerce, and Homeland Security issued an advisory jointly warning US companies to monitor their activities in China, particularly in Xinjiang, saying they could face “reputational, economic and legal risks associated with certain types of involvement with entities that engage in human rights abuses.”
Xinjiang is responsible for about 85 percent of China’s cotton production, according to the US Agriculture Department, and about one-fifth of cotton production globally. Brands like Muji, Costco, Uniqlo, Caterpillar, Ralph Lauren, Lacoste, Hugo Boss, and Tommy Hilfiger have been named in reports tying them to Xinjiang factories or materials. However, most of the companies have denied the allegations.