T-shirts, bed sheets, laptops, hair extensions, and gloves. These products, when “Made in China,” could be produced by victims of the Chinese government’s heinous detention of 1 to 3 million Uyghurs, Kazakhs, and other Muslim and ethnic minorities in hundreds or as many as 1,300 internment camps. These victims are subject to torture, medical neglect, forced ingestion of unidentified drugs, forced sterilization, rape and sexual abuse, forced abortions, political indoctrination, forced renunciation of faith and other human rights abuses.
The Trump administration will not tolerate these heinous crimes. In September, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) ordered U.S. ports of entry to detain cotton, hair products, and computer parts that certain entities are producing with forced labor from China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region.
Specifically, five entities investigated by CBP connected to the importation of goods made with forced labor will no longer be permitted to import those goods into the United States.
Last week, CBP announced the detention of apparel, mostly gloves, manufactured by Yili Zhuowan Garment Manufacturing Co., Ltd. and Baoding LYSZD Trade and Business Co., Ltd. after months-long CBP investigation identified forced labor indicators including restriction of movement, isolation, intimidation and threats, withholding of wages, and abusive working and living conditions.
The Trump administration’s mission is to protect the American people and help consumers and businesses combat the heinous activity and illegal human rights abuses committed by regimes around the world. CBP is intercepting these products before American consumers suffer the ethical consequences of purchasing these illegal forced-labor-made products from a local retailer. The Department of Labor also recently unveiled its annual report on products made with forced and child labor and added five goods produced by forced labor by Muslim minorities in China. In addition to detaining goods from specific manufacturers, CBP will prevent the entry of all products made from the Lop County No. 4 Vocational Skills Education and Training Center in Xinjiang. Information reasonably indicates that this “re-education” camp, which the Chinese government euphemistically calls a Vocational Skills Education and Training Center, is actually providing forced labor to nearby manufacturing entities in Xinjiang.
The situation in China is abhorrent. The purpose of these camps is to eradicate the cultural and religious beliefs of Uyghur Muslims and other ethnic minorities. The General Secretary of the Chinese Communist Party himself has summarized his approach as one of showing “absolutely no mercy.” “Round up everyone who should be rounded up” was the directive from the head of the Xinjiang Region.
The Chinese government’s security apparatus, including the Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps, generates revenue from the forced labor in these camps, a tactic straight out of authoritarian playbooks of the 20th Century. Nazi Germany’s elite Schutzstaffel security unit, or “SS,” established companies and held contracts with firms that financially benefitted from forced labor in genocidal internment camps. The Soviet agency that managed Stalin’s labor camps, known as GULAG, also evolved into an economic empire, financially benefitting from forced labor camps holding political prisoners.
China’s state-sponsored forced labor and human trafficking does not stop at the walls of its internment camps. Outside of the camps in Xinjiang, minorities are forced to work under constant surveillance and abuse, with camp detention as the only alternative. Detainees of the slave labor camps are sent to work in factories across China against their will.
CBP has been detaining products made with forced labor for many years, from many parts of the world.
These actions taken by DHS send a clear message to the international community and businesses around the world that using forced labor to make cheap products will not be tolerated by the Trump administration.
This is also a warning to U.S. companies: examine your supply chains for any trace of goods or components made by forced labor and then remove them immediately and inform suppliers that your company will not accept or pay for such items under any circumstances. The U.S. will not permit products made with forced labor from Chinese internment camps and from other countries to enter American markets. Forced labor violations can result in civil penalties of up to hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines and criminal consequences for companies who fail to comply.
Our nation stands for the dignity and worth of every human being. The Chinese government needs to close its internment camps, set its captives free, and end its state-sponsored forced labor program immediately. Until they do, we will continue to block these illicit goods and prosecute those who profit from them.
Ken Cuccinelli is the Senior Official Performing the Duties of Acting Deputy Secretary for the Department of Homeland Security and Mark Morgan is the Acting Commissioner of Customs & Border Protection.