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US to seize all Xinjiang tomato, cotton imports

AFP logo AFP 13/1/2021 AFP
a group of people in a field with a mountain in the background: A facility believed to be a re-education camp where mostly Muslim ethnic minorities are detained in Artux in China's western Xinjiang region © GREG BAKER A facility believed to be a re-education camp where mostly Muslim ethnic minorities are detained in Artux in China's western Xinjiang region

The United States will seize all imports of tomato and cotton products from China's Xinjiang region due to the use of forced labor, the Customs and Border protection agency announced Wednesday. 

CBP issued a "withhold release order" on those imports "based on information that reasonably indicates the use of detainee or prison labor and situations of forced labor," it said.

It was the latest in a series of withhold release orders issued on products originating in China's huge far-west region, where the government has forced more than one million ethnic Uighur Muslims and other minorities into prison camps, according to human rights groups.

Those camps are used to source labor for factories in the region, the rights groups say.

The United States "will not tolerate forced labor of any kind in US supply chains," said Ken Cuccinelli, acting deputy secretary of the Homeland Security Department, which oversees the CBP.

"We will continue to protect the American people and investigate credible allegations of forced labor, we will prevent goods made by forced labor from entering our country, and we demand the Chinese close their camps and stop their human rights violations," he said in a statement.

Earlier import seizure orders included cotton and cotton products and tomato products from specific companies operating in Xinjiang.

pmh/st

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