News24.com | ‘Forced labour is an atrocious human rights abuse’

  • The US announced it would block Chinese products
    made by “forced labour” in the Xinjiang region, where Uighur
    minorities are known to suffer rights abuses.
  • The items include cotton, garments, hair products
    and electronics from five specific manufacturers in Xinjiang, as well as
    adjacent Anhui.
  • The US is increasingly using such orders to
    pressure Beijing over its detention of more than one million members of the
    mostly Muslim Uighur minority.


Washington – The US announced on Monday it would
block a range of Chinese products made by “forced labour” in the
Xinjiang region, including from a “vocational” centre that it branded
a “concentration camp” for Uighur minorities.

“The Chinese government is engaged in
systematic abuses against the Uighur people” and other minorities, said
Mark Morgan, acting commissioner of the Customs and Border Protection agency
(CBP).

“Forced labour is an atrocious human rights
abuse,” he said.

The items include cotton, garments, hair products
and electronics from five specific manufacturers in Xinjiang, as well as
adjacent Anhui.

It also included all products tied to the Lop
County No. 4 Vocational Skills Education and Training Center in Xinjiang, which
Homeland Security acting deputy secretary Ken Cuccinelli said was a centre of
forced labour.

“This is not a vocational centre, it is a
concentration camp, a place where religious and ethnic minorities are subject
to abuse and forced to work in heinous conditions with no recourse and no
freedom,” Cuccinelli told reporters.

“This is modern day slavery.”

The actions announced consisted of “withhold
release orders” or WROs, which empower the CBP to seize products from the
blacklisted companies and organisations.

The US government is increasingly using such orders
to pressure Beijing over its detention of more than one million members of the
mostly Muslim Uighur minority in Xinjiang for ostensible re-education.

Calling attention to abuses

In July, the customs agency placed WRO blocks on
hair products, used for wigs and extensions, from several companies operating
in Xinjiang, and in August did the same for garments made and sold by the Hero
Vast Group.

“The Chinese government needs to close its
concentration camps,” said Cuccinelli.

The move came as rights groups and members of US
Congress press the administration of President Donald Trump to take more resolute
action over alleged Chinese repression of Muslims in the country’s vast west.

In July, the US Treasury imposed sanctions on a
major paramilitary group, Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps, accusing
it of abuses against Uighurs and other mostly Muslim groups.

It also hit several officials with sanctions,
including Chen Quanguo, the Chinese Communist Party chief for the Xinjiang
region and architect of Beijing’s hardline policies against restive minorities.

“The Trump Administration has led the world in
calling attention to the Chinese Communist Party’s egregious human rights
abuses in Xinjiang, and we’ve taken action to back up our rhetoric,” said
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in a statement.

CBP officials said they are currently studying a
measure to place a block on all cotton and tomatoes from Xinjiang.

In August, the Investor Alliance for Human Rights
called for a ban on all cotton-made goods linked to Xinjiang, which supplies
the lion’s share of China’s cotton.

Did you know you can comment on this article? Subscribe to News24 and add your voice to the conversation.

Article source: https://www.news24.com/news24/World/News/forced-labour-is-an-atrocious-human-rights-abuse-us-puts-block-on-chinese-products-from-uighur-camps-20200916