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  • 23 Jun, 2024

US halts Chinese 'genocide' cotton imports.

US halts Chinese 'genocide' cotton imports.

The decision stems from allegations of forced labor involving Uighurs in Xinjiang.

The United States has declared a prohibition on cotton imports from 26 Chinese companies that obtain it from Xinjiang, citing allegations of forced labor and the genocide of the predominantly Muslim Uighur minority in the region.

Washington has consistently accused Beijing of persecuting the Uighurs, a claim China vehemently denies, dismissing it as baseless falsehoods.

Announcing the addition of 26 Chinese companies to the sanctioned blacklist under the Uighur Forced Labor Prevention Act (UFLPA), DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas stated, "The Department of Homeland Security will not tolerate forced labor in our nation’s supply chains."

Thursday's announcement marks the "largest ever one-time expansion" of the UFLPA blacklist and underscores the commitment to "promoting accountability for the ongoing genocide and crimes against humanity against Uighurs and other religious and ethnic minority groups" in Xinjiang, as per the DHS.

Of the listed companies, five source cotton from Xinjiang, while 21 engage in both sourcing and selling cotton on the wholesale market. The US has enforced a ban on Xinjiang-sourced cotton since 2021, coinciding with the implementation of the UFLPA.

A spokesperson for the Chinese Embassy in Washington criticized the law, branding it as "just an instrument of a few US politicians to disrupt stability in the Xinjiang province and contain China’s development," in remarks to Reuters.

Congressman Chris Smith and Senator Jeff Merkley, respectively representing New Jersey as a Republican and Oregon as a Democrat, chair the Congressional-Executive Commission on China. They expressed approval of the DHS announcement but criticized the current list as "only a fraction of the businesses complicit in forced labor."

Merkley and Smith have urged the DHS to blacklist any company manufacturing goods for the US market using materials sourced from Xinjiang, including rayon, PVC, aluminum, and other materials.

China has consistently refuted US allegations of establishing labor camps for Uighurs and other Muslim minorities in the province. According to China, allegations of genocide in Xinjiang are "ridiculously absurd" and "a complete lie," as stated by the current foreign minister, Wang Yi, in 2021. Additionally, Beijing has highlighted that the Uighur population has more than doubled from 5.55 million to over 12 million in the past 40 years.