United States to Ban All Cotton and Tomato Imports from China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region

In its most recent steps to hold China accountable to egregious human rights violations in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR; also referred to as East Turkestan), the United States has extended its import ban to include all cotton and tomato products produced in Xinjiang. This expansion comes after its September 2020 partial ban on cotton products from Xinjiang. The additional products to be detained at United States ports include clothing, textiles, tomato seeds, canned tomatoes, and tomato sauce via the withhold release order. See below some of the laudatory comments by Uyghur and other human rights organizations:

“Xinjiang cotton only comes in one color: blood red. Communist regimes have a long history of depending on forced labor economically and using it as a tool of political repression. Today, the U.S. has made the bold move to hold Communist China accountable for its actions.” – Marion Smith, President & CEO, Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation

“Xinjiang’s entire cotton production is tainted with coercion. With this total ban, the U.S. has taken the most effective step to constrain the flow of cotton picked by hands that had no choice.” – Dr. Adrian Zenz, Senior Research Fellow, Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation

“This is the right decision, and more steps are needed. UHRP has been calling for a complete ban on imports tainted by China’s atrocity crimes against Uyghurs. With the genocidal campaign that is soon to enter its 5th year, Uyghurs don’t understand how ‘business as usual’ has continued as long as it has.” – Omer Kanat, Executive Director, Uyghur Human Rights Project

Contrastingly, Chinese authorities have criticized the United States’ ban:

“The so-called forced labor is manufactured and fabricated by certain Western institutions and people, including the U.S. The purpose is to crack down on relevant Chinese parties and companies and curb China’s development. The U.S. side created this lie and then took actions based on this lie.” – Zhao Lijian, Spokesman, Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs

UHRP also calls upon the International Labor Organization, as well as other governments across the world, to similarly speak up and speak out about the issue, as it is no secret that China is engaging in “the most massive scheme of government-organized forced labor since World War II.” The United States’ recent actions against China serve as an example that other countries must follow: In December, the US sanctioned cotton products from the Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps (XPCC), and between October 2019 and July 2020, the US leveled Global Magnitsky Act sanctions against leading authorities of the XPCC and other entities/organizations “implicated in human rights violations and abuses in the implementation of China’s campaign of repression, mass arbitrary detention, and high-technology surveillance…in the XUAR.”

Cover photo by Rockin’Rita on Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)