The United States has persistently drawn attention to the Chinese Communist Party’s egregious human rights abuses against Uighurs and members of other Muslim minority groups in Xinjiang. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has called what the People’s Republic of China is doing there -- subjecting more than one million people to detention in internment camps, and other abuses including constant surveillance, brutal population control, and forced labor –- “the stain of the century.”
Over the past year, the State Department has imposed sanctions on several
Chinese Communist Party officials, citing their ties to human rights violations in Xinjiang. The officials include Politburo member Chen Quanguo, the Communist Party Secretary for the region, Party Secretary of the Xinjiang Political and Legal Committee Zhu Hailun, and the current Party Secretary of the Xinjiang Public Security Bureau Wang Mingshan.
In addition, the Commerce Department has imposed export restrictions on 48 Chinese entities, including regional government agencies, local police, and security technology companies complicit in the CCP’s campaign of repression in Xinjiang.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection, or CBP, has also been active -- issuing eight Withhold Release Orders, or WROs, on various products from the Xinjiang region since September 2019 to prevent goods made with forced labor from entering the United States. The orders direct CBP Officers at all ports of entry to the United States to withhold release of the goods.
CBP issued five WRO’s on September 14, 4 targeting companies that produce cotton, apparel, technology and hair products, all made with forced labor in Xinjiang. One WRO was for all products coming from a forced labor camp in Xinjiang.
“By taking this action, DHS (the Department of Homeland Security) is combating illegal and inhumane forced labor, a type of modern slavery used to make goods that the Chinese government then tries to import into the United States,” said Acting DHS Deputy Secretary Ken Cuccinelli.
Acting CBP Commissioner Mark Morgan said, “[These] Withhold Release Orders send a clear message to the international community that we will not tolerate the illicit, inhumane and exploitative practices of forced labor in U.S. supply chains.”
The People’s Republic of China should also hear the message, said Secretary of State Pompeo: “that it is time to end its practice of state sponsored forced labor and to respect the human rights of all people.”