US bans imports from two Chinese firms over Uyghur forced labor

China’s foreign ministry called the claims concocted and said they were part of an anti-China smear campaign.
By Alex Willemyns for RFA
2023.08.02
Washington
US bans imports from two Chinese firms over Uyghur forced labor Detainees are guarded by police as they stand in line apparently reciting or singing in this undated photo from the Tekes County Detention Center in the Xinjiang region of China. Beijing has called its network of detention centers and prisons in the region training centers.
Handout/The Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation/AFP

The Department of Homeland Security has banned imports into the United States of goods produced by a Chinese battery maker and a spice maker due to their alleged use of forced Uyghur labor, prompting complaints from China’s foreign ministry about a smear campaign.

Goods made by Camel Group Co., Ltd., a battery maker, and Chenguang Biotech Group Co., Ltd., a spice maker, can no longer be legally imported into the United States as of Wednesday, with the two firms being added to the Entity List in accordance with the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act, according to a DHS statement.

The statement says the listings bring the number of firms on the UFLPA’s Entity List to 24. The 2021 UFLPA bans the import of goods made using Uyghur forced labor – with all imports coming from the Xinjiang region assumed to involve slave labor – but the Entity List explicitly bans imports from firms found to have used such labor.

“We will continue to work with all of our partners to keep goods made with forced labor from Xinjiang out of U.S. commerce while facilitating the flow of legitimate trade,” Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas is quoted as saying in the statement, which was released Tuesday and also refers to the “ongoing genocide” of Uyghurs.

“Today’s enforcement actions demonstrate the Biden-Harris Administration’s commitment to holding organizations accountable for their egregious human rights abuses and forced labor practices.”

Since UFLPA came into effect, U.S. customs officials have inspected imports worth some $1.64 billion across thousands of shipments, the statement adds, due to suspicions about links to forced labor.

China’s foreign ministry said in its own statement that the claims of forced labor and genocide against Uyghurs were fabrications.

Beijing denies a genocide is occuring in Xinjiang and instead says that Uyghurs are being educated in “vocational education and training centers” meant to help them better fit into Han Chinese society.

“The allegation of ‘forced labor’ in Xinjiang is nothing but an enormous lie propagated by anti-China elements to smear China,” the foreign ministry said. “It is the very opposite of the fact that the labor rights of people of all ethnic backgrounds in Xinjiang are effectively protected.”

“The move to blacklist Chinese entities and going after more Chinese companies is aimed at undermining Xinjiang’s prosperity and stability and containing China’s development,” it said, vowing “to firmly safeguard Chinese companies’ lawful rights and interests.”

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