US bans some exports from Chinese companies over human rights abuses in Uighur

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

DHARAMSALA, 15 Sept: Calling out China over its ‘systemic human rights abuses against the Uyghur people and other ethnic and religious minorities’, the US has decided to ban some products made by state-sponsored forced labour in the Uyghur.

The decision to crack down on goods produced by China’s state-sponsored forced labour in Uighur was announced by the Customs and Border Protection, (CBP) a unified border agency within the Department of Homeland Security(DHS) on Monday.

“By taking this action, DHS is combating illegal and inhumane forced labor, a type of modern slavery, used to make goods that the Chinese government then tries to import into the United States. When China attempts to import these goods into our supply chains, it also disadvantages American workers and businesses,” Acting DHS Deputy Secretary Ken Cuccinelli has said in a statement released by the CBP.

Cuccinelli has further said that “President Trump and this Department have, and always will, put American workers and businesses first and protect American citizens from participating in these egregious human rights violations.”

CBP’s has issued five Withhold Release Orders (WRO) on garments, cotton, computer parts and hair products made from five Chinese companies in Uighur instructing its officers at all ports of entry directing them to withhold release of the listed goods.

Brenda Smith, the Executive Assistant Commissioner of CBP’s Office of Trade stated in the report that “the series of actions CBP has taken against imports from China demonstrates the pervasive use of unethical and inhumane labor conditions in China, and CBP will not turn a blind eye.”

“Allowing goods produced using forced labor into the US supply chain undermines the integrity of our imports. American consumers deserve and demand better,” he concluded.

The development came at a time when the US-China relationship is at their lowest point. Earlier on 15 June 2020,  US President Donald Trump signed into law the Uyghur Human Rights Policy Act of 2020 to counter China’s gross violations of universally recognised human rights, including the mass internment of over 1,000,000 Uighurs Muslims in East Turkistan.

The bill authorizes the imposition of US sanctions against Chinese officials responsible for the detention and persecution of Uyghurs.

While rights groups say that tens of thousands of Muslims are detained in high-security prison camps across east Turkistan, Beijing has maintained that the camps are voluntary education and training centre.

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