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US, UK, and Canada Ban Chinese Goods from Xinjiang Region over “Forced Labour”, China Calls it a “Lie of the Century”

US and UK banned several goods from China’s Xinjiang region over the treatment of minorities in the region. US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) on January 13 said they are banning cotton and tomato products from the region. The UK is also set to announce plans outlawing the import of goods suspected of using forced labour in China’s Xinjiang province with Canada following the suit.

“Based on information that reasonably indicates the use of detainee or prison labor and situations of forced labor,” said US CBP. The agency also found examples of debt bondage, restriction of movement, isolation, intimidation and threats, withholding of wages, and abusive living and working conditions as reported by CNN.

UK’s foreign minister Dominic Raab criticised China’s treatment of Uighurs in Xinjiang region and said it amounts to torture. He said fines will be imposed on firms that “do not show due diligence in cleaning up their supply chains,” as reported by The Guardian earlier this week.

“Our aim, put simply, is that no company that profits from forced labour in Xinjiang can do business in the UK and that no UK business is involved in their supply chains,” said UK foreign minister Dominique Raab. However, the UK hasn’t imposed any sanctions on individuals so far. 

Canada also followed the suit and announced a ban on the import of goods suspected of being made using forced labor in China’s Xinjiang region.

“In coordination with the United Kingdom and other international partners, Canada is adopting a comprehensive approach to defending the rights of Uyghurs and other ethnic minorities, including by advancing measures to address the risk of forced labour from any country from entering Canadian and global supply chains and to protect Canadian businesses from becoming unknowingly complicit,” said the statement released by Canada’s foreign ministry on January 12.

The People’s Republic of China criticised the countries for politicising an internal matter and called the accusations of forced labour a “lie of the century.”

Hua Chunying, Foreign Ministry Spokesperson and Director General, Information Department at Ministry of Foreign Ministry at People’s Republic of China said,“ ‘Forced labor’ is the biggest lie of the century aimed to restrict and suppress the relevant Chinese authorities and companies and contain China’s development.”

China claimed no camps for Uighurs exist and no Uighurs are detained. China also urged the countries to withdraw the ban on goods.

“The Xinjiang-related measures announced by the UK & Canada are based on nothing but lies & disinformation. Their erroneous decisions must be withdrawn. There are NO “camps”, NO “1 million Uyghurs detained” & NO “forced labor” in Xinjiang,” said Lijian Zhao, Spokesman & DDG, Information Department, Foreign Ministry, China.