United States has announced it will put a ban on certain exports from Xinjiang region of China for alleged human rights atrocities committed against the Uighur Muslim minority. The government cites that use of force labor for the production of materials in the concentration camps dubbed as vocational centers by Chinese government as the main cause of the ban. The products banned by the US include cotton, garments, hair products/wigs and computer parts coming from Xinjiang as well as adjoining province of Anhui. Authorities say a wider regional ban could also be on the cards and can be implemented in future.
“These extraordinary human rights violations demand an extraordinary response,” Kenneth Cuccinelli, the acting secretary of Department of Homeland Security briefed the reporters.
“This is modern-day slavery.”
The latest move by Trump administration is being seen as an effort by current WH administration as a bid to mount more pressure on China over its human rights abuses in the Xinjiang region. Beijing is believed to have put more than 1mn Uighurs in its concentration camps to fight extremism and separatism. China maintains that its interment sites discourage the ignorance and are vital to combating the security risks. According to Beijing, job training and education are a key to eradicate the separatism threats and terrorism. Thousands of families are left without their children who are now admitted in the detention centers while women have been forcibly subjected to strict birth control in the province.
The statement on Monday “send a clear message to the international community that we will not tolerate the illicit, inhumane, and exploitative practices of forced labor in US supply chains,” Mark A. Morgan, acting commissioner of US Customers and Border Protection agency, said.
“Forced labor is an atrocious human rights abuse that is completely against the values that we all share.”
“The Trump administration will not stand idly by and allow foreign companies to subject vulnerable workers to forced labor while harming American businesses that respect human rights and the rule of law,” Morgan said.
The new orders hit four companies and one manufacturing site in Xinjiang. The ban just fell short of penalizing the whole region.
“Because of its unique nature, being, applying to a region as opposed to a company or a facility, we are giving that more legal analysis,” Cuccinelli explained.
“We want to make sure that once we proceed that it will stick, so to speak.”
China accounts for nearly 20%of world’s cotton exports with most of it coming from Xinjiang. The Muslim minority region is also a major source of petrochemicals and other goods consumed by Chinese industries. This month, US-based Disney came under fire for shooting parts of its upcoming movie Mulan in the oppressed region.