US implements import ban on goods from China’s Xinjiang over allegations of forced labour, genocide against Uyghurs

Secretary of State Antony Blinken says the US is rallying its allies against forced labor as it begins implementing an import ban on goods from China’s Xinjiang region, where Washington says Beijing is committing genocide.

US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has begun enforcing the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act, which President Joe Biden signed into law in December.

CBP has said it is ready to implement the law’s “rebuttable presumption” that all goods from Xinjiang, where Chinese authorities established detention camps for Uyghurs and other Muslim groups, are made with forced labor and barred from import unless it can be proven otherwise.

The agency has said a very high level of evidence would be required for importers to receive an exception to the law.

“We are rallying our allies and partners to make global supply chains free from the use of forced labour, to speak out against atrocities in Xinjiang, and to join us in calling on the government of the PRC [People’s Republic of China] to immediately end atrocities and human rights abuses,” Mr Blinken said in a statement.

“Together with our inter-agency partners, we will continue to engage companies to remind them of US legal obligations.”

China has been accused of running detention camps for Uyghurs and other Muslim groups in Xinjiang.(Reuters: Thomas Peter)

An Australian Senate committee last year called for the Customs Act to be amended “to prohibit the import of any goods made wholly or in part with forced labour”.

The ABC has contacted the federal government to ask whether Australia plans to support the US move and take its own action.

China denies abuses in Xinjiang, a major cotton producer that also supplies much of the world’s materials for solar panels.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said earlier in Beijing that claims of forced labor in Xinjiang were a “big lie concocted by anti-China forces”.

“With this so-called law, the United States is trying to create forced unemployment in Xinjiang and to push for the world to decouple with China,” Mr Wang said.

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