The United States on Monday announced a ban on all imports from China’s Uyghur Autonomous Region (UAR) or Xinjiang province where goods are allegedly produced with forced labour under mass detention and torture. The prohibition was advanced as a part of the implementation of the Uyghur Forced Labour Prevention Act (UFLPA) passed by US last month, to eradicate slavery, the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS), in a statement.

According to rights groups’ estimates, nearly one million people from Muslim and Turkic minority communities have been detained in Xinjiang and pushed into forced labour in the past few years. Following this, the US has repeatedly slammed China for its complete disregard for civil liberties and accused Beijing of conducting “genocide” in the resource-rich region in northwestern China. However, Beijing has continued to rebuff Washington’s claims calling it the “lie of the century”.

“As part of its implementation of the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act (UFLPA), that it will seek public input to inform the Department’s continued efforts to prohibit goods from being imported into the United States that are produced with forced labor in the People’s Republic of China, including in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region,” US DHS said in its statement.

The move comes as part of the efforts to “advance the Biden-Harris Administration’s priority to eradicate forced labor from US supply chains,” Alejandro Mayorkas, Secretary of the US DHS, said in a statement. He also added the step will help the “world’s leading forced labor investigators in their mission to protect human rights and international labor standards.” Stressing that the UFLPA is vital to “end horrific practices around the world,” Secretary Mayorkas hoped to hear from stakeholders in a bid to protect the trade ecosystem.

As part of our efforts to advance the Biden-Harris Administration’s priority to eradicate forced labor from U.S. supply chains, we are taking an important first step today to implement the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act. — Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas (@SecMayorkas) January 24, 2022

The Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act

The UFLP law was approved by the Senate in December and later signed into an Act by US President Joe Biden. The UFLPA prohibits goods from being imported into the United States that are either produced in China’s Xinjiang province or by certain entities identified in the forthcoming UFLPA enforcement strategy. The goods are not cleared by customs unless the importer can prove convincing evidence about the source of production, the DHS explained.

The Act has been widely criticised by notable consumer goods companies like Coca-Cola, Nike, and Apple that have production units in China’s Xinjiang province. In addition, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian responded to the act by saying that the US tends to “overstretch the concept of national security as certain politicians politicise and instumentalise science and technology, and economy and trade issues based on ideology,” BBC reported. The issue adds to widening the rift between US and China as both the significant economies continue to lock horns over Taiwan, Beijing Olympics, and more.

Image: AP