The US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agency recently banned cotton and cotton product imports from the Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps (XPCC), one of China's largest producers and a powerful quasi-military governmental organisation. CBP said XPCC uses forced labour of detained Uighur Muslims. US clothing and retail groups welcomed the ban.
The treasury department had in July banned all dollar transactions with XPCC, founded in 1954 to settle China's far west.
"The cheap cotton goods you may be buying for family and friends during this season of giving - if coming from China - may have been made by slave labour in some of the most egregious human rights violations existing today in the modern world," department of homeland security secretary Kenneth Cuccinelli told a news conference. He said a region-wide Xinjiang cotton import ban was still being studied.
The fresh action will force apparel firms and other companies shipping cotton products into the United States to eliminate XPCC-produced cotton fibre from many stages of their supply chains, Brenda Smith, CBP's executive assistant commissioner for trade, was quoted as saying by US media reports.
The United Nations has claimed to have credible reports that a million Muslims held in camps have been put to work in the region.
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