United States President Donald Trump’s administration has banned the import of certain goods from China that it says are made by forced laborers from the Xinjiang region, where millions of Uighurs and other Muslim and religious minorities are held in mass detention camps.
On Monday, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection issued five Withhold Release Orders on products from China, blocking the import of certain goods including hair products, apparel, and computer parts.
The order specifically names five companies or industrial parks in Xinjiang and one company in eastern Anhui province the CBP says uses prison and forced labor to make products.
One of Xinjiang’s “vocational skills education and training centers” is also named in the order, a name the CPB says is a euphemism for China’s “re-education” internment camps. Estimates suggest that as many as 1 million Uighur Muslims have been subject to internment camps, where they are taught to be secular citizens who will be subservient to the ruling Communist Party.
“This is not a vocational center, it is a concentration camp,” said Ken Cuccinelli, the senior official performing the duties of the deputy secretary for the Department of Homeland Security. “A place where religious and ethnic minorities are subject to abuse and forced to work in heinous conditions with no recourse and no freedom. This is modern-day slavery.”
In a statement, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that banning the entities is part of combating the “egregious human rights abuses” that Uyghurs and other ethnic and religious groups in Xinjiang are facing.
Such abuses “include subjecting individuals to forced labor and stripping them of their freedom and agency to choose how and where they work,” Pompeo said. “These actions send a clear message to the PRC that it is time to end its practice of state-sponsored forced labor and to respect the human rights of all people.”
In the past year, the Trump administration has issued eight “withhold release orders” to block goods from China suspected to have been made with forced labor from entering the country. Previous bans included toys, peeled garlic, hair products, and artificial sweeteners.