On September 14, the Trump administration issued a new import restriction against Chinese companies that are allegedly using slave labor. The administration claimed the products were from mass prison camps in China's western Xinjiang region.
Labor camps in China
One company in eastern Anhui province and five different companies in Xinjiang have been included in the list made by the United States Customs and Border Protection or US CBP. The companies make apparel, cotton, hair products, and computer products.
One of the vocational skills education and training centers in Xinjiang was also named in the order. The name "vocational skills education and training centers" is used by Beijing to soften the blow of what is really happening in the region, according to CNN.
The "training centers" are concentration camps where Muslim minorities are detained. The Muslim inmates are made to pledge loyalty to the Chinese Communist Party and forces them to work as free or low-cost labor in factories and nearby facilities.
Ken Cuccinelli, the senior official performing the duties of the deputy secretary for the Department of Homeland, said that the "vocational center" is a concentration camp, and it is a place minorities are abused and forced to work in inhumane conditions with no freedom.
The agency issued "Withhold Release Orders" for all six Chinese companies. The agency's orders are intended to prevent goods suspected to have been made with forced labor from entering the United States.
The order allow Customs and Border Protection to detain shipments at US ports and gives companies the chance to export their shipments or demonstrate that the products were not produced with forced labor.
US action on Xinjiang
The US trade action is one of the numerous steps done by the Trump administration targeting Chinese businesses and authorities. These steps are done due to allegations of human rights abuses and modern-day slavery in the region of Xinjiang.
Up to 2 million Muslim minorities in Xinjiang have been imprisoned in mass re-education centers, including massive numbers of the Uyghur people, according to the US State Department, with reports emerging from the camps of abuse, indoctrination, and sterilization.
The Chinese government has described the vocational centers as "voluntary" and "part of a wide-reaching deradicalization campaign."
In July 2020, the Trump administration imposed sanctions on several Xinjiang officials, including Chen Quanguo, the region's Community Party secretary, stating that the US would not stand idly by as the Chinese Communist Party continues to violate human rights, as reported by CNN.
In June 2020, US President Donald Trump signed the Uyghur Human Rights Act into law. The law condemns the Chinese Communist Party for human rights abuses and modern-day slavery.
Recently, US CBP has stepped up its efforts targeting forced labor, and the agency issued 12 orders in 2020, including eight that are focused on products from China.
The new orders by US CBP targeted forced labor in China followed two years of investigation by the agency, according to the senior official performing the duties of the commissioner at the US CBP, Mark Morgan.
Cuccinelli said that 2020 had been the most aggressive year in using US CBP's authorities to fight forced labor.