United States curbs some imports from China's Xinjiang, citing forced labor

China has said the camps are vocational education and training centres as part of counter-terrorism and deradicalisation measures

US bans Chinese products believed to be made by forced labor

The Trump administration on Monday said it will block USA imports of cotton, apparel and other products from five specific entities in western China's Xinjiang region, but has shelved proposed region-wide bans on all Xinjiang-produced cotton and tomato products.

Other products linked to Chinese forced labor in the past have included artificial flowers, bricks, Christmas decorations, coal, fireworks, footwear, garments and nails, according to a report from the U.S.

European Union observers are free to visit Xinjiang to "truly understand" the situation in the northwestern region where Beijing is accused of widespread rights abuses against the Uighur population, China said Tuesday.

The so-called withhold release orders announced by Customs and Border Protection on Monday target all products made with labor from the Lop County No. 4 Vocational Skills Education and Training Center in Xinjiang, which provides prison labor to nearby manufacturing entities, the border agency said.

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"Bachelet's remarks on China say nothing of substance - no word about the human costs of China's rights violations, including against Uighurs and in Hong Kong, nor the ongoing concerns about free expression, arbitrary detention and crackdowns on civil society", Sarah Brooks of the International Service for Human Rights told Reuters news agency. "It's modern slavery", said Ken Cuccinelli, Deputy Minister of Homeland Security. It also issued detention orders earlier this year on hair weaves and other beauty products produced in Xinjiang by a company suspected of involvement in human rights abuses.

Companies that ship clothing and other cotton goods, computer parts and hair products from the Xinjiang region were named in the order issued by U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

The Trump administration has over the past year issued eight of what are known as "withhold release orders", on goods from China to block goods tainted by forced labor.

The US-China relations have deteriorated after the COVID-19 outbreak, with President Donald Trump squarely blaming Beijing for allowing the disease to spread across the world.

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"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.

There is plenty of room for cynicism about USA motives, particularly given the disdain toward Muslim populations within the Trump administration itself and the convenient geopolitics of highlighting China's abuses, while very much turning a blind eye to, say, Saudi Arabia's.

Acting CBP Commissioner Mark Morgan said USA businesses need to do "extreme diligence" when acquiring goods from overseas, especially China and other places with a history of using forced labor. Dozens of Chinese entities and companies also have been blacklisted from doing business with us firms.

The WROs prevent goods from being imported into the United States when there are accusations of forced labour.

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