Five companies or industrial parks in Xinjiang and one company in eastern Anhui Province that make apparel, cotton, computer and hair products have been named in the new order by the US Customs and Border Protection (US CBP).
One of the “Education and Training Centers for Professional Qualifications” in Xinjiang is also named in that order. This name is euphemistically used by Beijing to refer to the large re-education camps allegedly incarcerated by Muslim minority inmates to pledge allegiance to the Chinese communist, celebrate and work as free or inexpensive forced labor in factories and nearby facilities.
“This is not a professional center, it is a concentration camp,”
The agency issued withhold release orders for all six Chinese companies to prevent goods suspected of being made using forced labor from entering the US. The orders allow Customs and Border Protection to withhold shipments in US ports, and give companies the option to export their shipments or provide evidence that the goods were not made using forced labor.
The new US measures fell short of what some had expected as a more widespread import ban from China that would have targeted all cotton and tomato products exported from the Xinjiang region to the US. Cuccinelli said the US government was considering even stronger measures.
“Because of its unique nature, which applies to a region as opposed to a company or entity, we are giving this more legal analysis,” he said, adding that the agency wants to ensure that “once we proceed, it will persist “.
Cuccinelli denied that the regional order delay had anything to do with concerns about the violation of the US-China trade agreement.
US action against Xinjiang
The US trade operation is the latest in a series of moves by the Trump administration targeting Chinese authorities and companies on allegations of human rights abuses in Xinjiang.
Up to 2 million Muslim minorities in Xinjiang, including a large number of Uyghurs, have been detained in mass re-education centers, according to the US State Department. Reports from the camps for abuse, indoctrination, and sterilization.
The Chinese government has described the centers as voluntary and part of a far-reaching de-radicalization campaign.
Recently, the US-based CBP stepped up its efforts to combat forced labor, placing 12 orders in fiscal 2020, including eight orders for goods from China.
Mark Morgan, the chief officer serving as the commissioner at the US CBP, said the new anti-forced labor orders in China followed a two-year investigation by the US CBP.
“It was the most aggressive year the CBP authorities were used to combat forced labor in their history,” Cuccinelli said.