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US puts import ban on goods from Xinjiang over forced labor allegations

WASHINGTON (Transatlantic Today) — As it begins enforcing an import ban on products from China’s Xinjiang province, where Washington claims Beijing is doing genocide, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken stated on Tuesday that Washington is mobilising its allies against forced labour. 

The Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act, which President Joe Biden passed into law in December, is now being enforced by U.S. Customs and Border Protection, according to NBC NEWS

The law’s “rebuttable presumption” that all products from Xinjiang, where Chinese government built detention facilities for Uyghurs and other Muslim populations, are created using forced labour and are thus prohibited from import until it can be demonstrated differently, has been announced by CBP. 

For importers to be granted a legal exemption, the agency has stated that a very high standard of proof will be needed. 

China, a major cotton supplier that also provides a large portion of the world’s solar panel components, denies that abuses are taking place in Xinjiang. 

The assertions of forced labor in Xinjiang, according to Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin, were a giant lie created by anti-China elements, he said earlier in Beijing. 

Beijing first dismissed the existence of such detention centers, but later acknowledged that “vocational training centres” had been established in order to combat what it claimed to be religious extremism, terrorism, and separatism in Xinjiang. 

A list of Xinjiang enterprises suspected of utilizing forced labor was released by CBP last week and included manufacturers of solar-grade polysilicon, electronics companies, and textiles. It has declared that imports from other nations would be prohibited if associated supply chains contain components from Xinjiang. 

The International Labour Organization of the United Nations has been urged to dispatch a team to look into claims of labor violations in Xinjiang by the US, the UK, and other nations. 

Given the complexity of monitoring supply chains in China, human rights organizations and trade associations that support local American producers have cautioned that Xinjiang supplies may make their way into solar imports from other nations. 

Biden dropped tariffs on solar panels from 4 Southeast Asian countries earlier in June, which the Coalition for a Prosperous America claimed indicated that his government was not committed to putting an end to forced labor. 

According to Alan Bersin, a former CBP commissioner and current executive chairman of supply chain technology firm Altana AI, CBP may require 2 years to increase enforcement because of the task’s scope, which might make it more challenging than the post-9/11 efforts to monitor terror financing.

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