- The Washington Times - Monday, September 14, 2020

The Department of Homeland Security announced new bans Monday on hair products, clothing and computer parts from some manufacturers in the Xinjiang region of China, linking them to the government’s detention and forced labor of minority Uighurs and warning more restrictions are on the way.

Customs and Border Protection announced five withhold release orders (WRO) on products shipped from the region, saying they will be blocked at U.S. ports of entry and won’t be allowed into the American market.

“These extraordinary human rights violations demand an extraordinary response,” said Ken Cuccinelli, the No. 2 official at Homeland Security.The move is in line with a broader aggressive tack taken by President Trump against China, a campaign that has included tariffs, regulations targeting Chinese companies, and sanctions on companies and government individuals for human rights violations in Xinjiang and Hong Kong.

The new WROs join a handful released over the last year, and mark a major escalation of Trump administration efforts to punish Beijing for its treatment of the mostly Muslim Uighurs, whom the U.S. believes are forced into working in plants and factories.

CBP chief Mark Morgan said officials also hope businesses look at their own supply chains, and U.S. consumers take a closer look at what they’re buying so they can bring their own pressure to bear on China.”We can use our economic power to tell businesses we will not stand by,” Mr. Morgan said.

The orders include hair products from the Lop County Hair Product Industrial Park; clothing from Yili Zhuowan Garment Manufacturing Co., Ltd. and Baoding LYSZD Trade and Business Co., Ltd.; cotton from Xinjiang Junggar Cotton and Linen Co., Ltd; and computer parts from Hefei Bitland Information Technology Co., Ltd. in Anhui, China.

The fifth order is aimed at all products from Lop County No. 4 Vocational Skills Education and Training Center, which Mr. Cuccinelli said amounted to a “concentration camp” for Uighur persons.

The Chinese Embassy in Washington said both the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Beijing and the Xinjiang government have rejected accusations of abuse of the Uighur population, and called the restrictions a heavy-handed economic attack.

“What the U.S. truly cares about is never human rights. It is just using human rights as a cover to suppress Chinese companies, undermine stability in Xinjiang and vilify China’s Xinjiang policy,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said last week. “The 1.4 billion Chinese people including all ethnic groups in Xinjiang have seen through the hypocrisy and malicious intentions of the U.S., as has the entire international community.”

When CBP blocks imports, shippers can either pull them back or challenge the ruling and attempt to prove the products were not made through forced labor or other violations.

The Homeland Security Department is pondering a broader region-wide ban on certain products from the Xinjiang region. Mr. Cuccinelli said officials want to make sure they can back up those cases should the producers challenge the decisions by connecting the production “slave labor.”

“We build the evidence one product or industry at a time,” he said.

Mr. Cuccinelli and Mr. Morgan said these WROs apply to shipments from those regions, but if producers use a middleman, the products may still be able to reach the American market. The two men said they’re working on technology to try to track that supply chain.

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