The United States on Wednesday (local time) announced a ban on the entry of cotton and tomato products from China's Xinjiang region amid allegations that detainee or prison labour from Uyghurs went into making them, according to the US Customs and Border Protection.
"Effective January 13 at all US ports of entry, US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) will detain cotton products and tomato products produced in China's Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region," read a statement from the agency.
The CBP ban, also known as a Withhold Release Order (WRO) was imposed following the emergence of reports indicating that the products were manufactured using forced labour from detained Uyghurs.
The products banned include apparel, textiles, tomato seeds, canned tomatoes, tomato sauce, and other goods made with cotton and tomatoes.
Mark A. Morgan, CBP Acting Commissioner, said, "CBP will not tolerate the Chinese government's exploitation of modern slavery to import goods into the United States below fair market value."
He further said that the imports of products using forced labour "hurt American businesses that respect human rights and also expose unsuspecting consumers to unethical purchases."
"Department of Homeland Security (DHS) will not tolerate forced labour of any kind in US supply chains. We will continue to protect the American people and investigate credible allegations of forced labour, we will prevent goods made by forced labour from entering our country, and we demand the Chinese close their camps and stop their human rights violations," said Ken Cuccinelli, Acting DHS Deputy Secretary, while responding to the ban.
According to the statement, this is the fourth WRO that CBP has issued since the beginning of Fiscal Year 2021, and the second on products originating in Xinjiang.
The credible reports have stated that more than one million people, are or have been, detained in what is being called "political re-education" centres, in the largest mass incarceration of an ethnic minority population in the world today.
China has been rebuked globally for cracking down on Uyghur Muslims by sending them to mass detention camps, interfering in their religious activities and sending members of the community to undergo some form of forcible re-education or indoctrination.
Beijing, on the other hand, has vehemently denied that it is engaged in human rights abuses against the Uyghurs in Xinjiang while reports from journalists, NGOs and former detainees have surfaced, highlighting the Chinese Communist Party's brutal crackdown on the ethnic community, according to a report.
Genocide is a serious crime under international law and the US government has adopted the term on rare occasions only after extensive documentation. Some experts said reports of mass surveillance, torture, arbitrary detentions and forced detentions employed by China against Uyghurs amount to "demographic genocide". (ANI)