Import of Chinese commodities made by forced labour in Xinjiang region will now be prohibited, after the implementation of the United States-sponsored Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act on June 21. On the other hand, manufacturers and retailers are preparing for turmoil as the US Customs Service implemented the ban on import from China’s Xinjiang region.

Companies are trying to assess how the proposed regulations would affect their supply and supply chains, with Asian covering suppliers, global retail chains, US solar-panel producers, and Chinese floor-tile global makers among the numerous entities that could see US bound shipments confiscated.

The ban increases pressure on Beijing over allegations of widespread human rights violations, including torture, arbitrary detention, and forced labour, targeting Muslim Uyghurs and other minorities in China’s western Xinjiang province. China disputes the allegations and has threatened retaliatory actions. The Act specifically targets commodities “originating in the northern autonomous province of Xinjiang,” China’s largest manufacturing base.

The Americans introduced the measure, claiming that Xinjiang has thousands of inmates from Muslim minorities subjected to forced labour and other abuses. The Chinese government has dismissed the claims and urged the West against enacting the Act, claiming that it would disrupt bilateral business ties.

The new law could severely harm US-China relations

Cotton-made garments and apparel, polysilicon, including that used in solar panels, tomatoes and tomato products, hair products, particularly wigs and hair extensions, touch screens and other electronic components, and rail transportation equipment are among the industries most vulnerable to forced labour. China had cautioned the Biden administration not to enforce the new law.

The Chinese government warned that if it started to reject Chinese imports, the new law would “severely” harm relations. According to Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian, “If the act is implemented, it will severely disrupt normal cooperation between China and the US, and global industrial and production chains. If the US insists on doing so, China will take robust measures to uphold its own rights and interests as well as its dignity.”

Former US President Donald Trump’s administration put a ban on cotton and tomato products from Xinjiang early last year. Further, the Senate passed the far-reaching UFLPA in July, and Congress passed it in December. It was later signed into law by current US President Joe Biden. Beginning June 21, US Customs and Border Protection began halting all Xinjiang cargo arriving at US ports.

(With agency inputs)

Image: AP