September 8, 2020
U.S. to Block Cotton Imports From China’s Xinjiang Over Forced Labour
The United States will move to block imports of cotton from western China’s Xinjiang region over allegations that it is produced with forced labour. The Trump administration has put a spotlight on China over its treatment of Xinjiang’s Uighur Muslim population. The United Nations has said it has credible reports that 1 million Muslims have been detained in camps in the region, where they are put to work.
The “Withhold Release Order” allows U.S. Customs and Border Protection to detain shipments based on suspicion of forced labour involvement under longstanding U.S. laws aimed at combating human trafficking, child labour and other human rights abuses.
Xinjiang accounts for 85% of Chinese cotton production. The U.S. imported about $50 billion worth of textiles and clothing from China last year, and Uighur cotton, yarn and fabric is used by other countries such as Vietnam, Indonesia, Cambodia, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka to make clothing.
China denies mistreatment of the Uighurs and says the camps are vocational training centres needed to fight extremism.