DHS unveils strategy to block goods made by Uyghur forced labor in China

The Department of Homeland Security released its strategy on Friday to stop the importation of goods into the United States that were made by forced labor in China’s Xinjiang province – where Uyghur Muslims and other minorities are exploited.

“Our department is committed to ending the heinous practice of forced labor around the world, including in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region where the People’s Republic of China continues to systematically oppress and exploit Uyghurs and other Muslim-majority communities,” Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said. said in a statement. “We must fight these inhumane and exploitative practices while ensuring that legitimate goods can enter our ports and reach American businesses and consumers as quickly as possible.”

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Congress passed the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act in December last year to curb the importation of goods from the Xinjiang region, where the United States and others have accused the Chinese of genocide and human rights violations.

China has claimed to be committed to countering radicalization and counterterrorism, but activists and governments have instead pointed to significant evidence of mass detentions, forced sterilizations, forced labor and bans on religious and cultural practices. and torture.

August 13, 2011: Migrant workers shovel raw salt at Qijiaojing Salt Field in Hami, northwest China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region. (Chinatopix via AP)

The strategy means that any good made partly or wholly in Xinjiang province is presumed to have been made with forced labor and will therefore be rendered inadmissible to the United States.

The document provides guidance to importers, including on due diligence and supply chain monitoring and management. It also provides the kind of “clear and convincing” evidence that importers will need to demonstrate that goods made in China were not made with forced labor. The strategy also gives a list of companies alleged to use forced labour.

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Officials stressed in a call with reporters that this list is not static and will look for evidence that other companies use forced or forced labor.

“We are committed to eradicating forced labour, there is a moral imperative to do so. Forced labor is a scourge,” said Forced Labor Law Enforcement Task Force Chairman Robert Silvers, during the call. “We implement vigorously, we implement effectively in a risk-based manner and in a manner that is consistent with our mandate to facilitate the flow of lawful trade and cargo.

Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Commissioner Chris Magnus said CBP is already working to prevent goods made with forced labor and that so far in the fiscal year 2022, CBP had already prevented the importation of more than $271.8 million worth of goods and seen four separate producers. take corrective measures to end the use of forced labour.

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The officials noted that the government had warned of the risks of doing business in Xinjiang since July 2020. The tough stance on Xinjiang and China’s treatment of Uyghurs represented a Trump-era policy that was maintained by the Biden administration, and represents an area of ​​bipartisan agreement.

The Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Law in December was signed by President Biden after winning bipartisan support in both houses of Congress.

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