09/09/2020, 10.26
UNITED STATES - CHINA
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Xinjiang: Washington will ban imports of goods produced by forced labour

For the US government, local authorities exploit Uyghur detainees to produce cotton and tomatoes. According to the UN, over one million Uyghurs are arbitrarily detained in internment camps. Criticism of Disney for shooting part of the film "Mulan" in the Chinese autonomous region.

Beijing (AsiaNews / Agencies) – The United States intends to ban imports of cotton and tomatoes - two of China's main export goods - from Xinjiang, because of charges that forced labour is used in production.

Brenda Smith, a senior executive of the US agency for the protection of borders and customs told Reuters that her office is finalizing the text of a measure that will authorize customs authorities to block the entry into the country of foreign products that are suspected of deriving from forced labour.

An investigation is still ongoing, but Washington believes that cotton and tomatoes in Xinjiang are harvested by Uyghur "detainees".

According to expert data, confirmed by the United Nations, over one million Uyghurs (out of a population of nearly 10 million) and other Turkish-speaking Islamic minorities are arbitrarily detained in Xinjiang, which the local population calls "East Turkestan".

Human rights activists and many governments, including the United States and the European Union, describe the detention centres as real internment camps. Beijing claims they are educational institutions to combat terrorism, separatism and Islamic extremism.

The import ban announced by Washington will have some impact on US consumers. China produces 20% of the world's cotton, most of it in Xinjiang. Similar to the trade war, the Trump administration doesn't seem to care.

Washington has already called on US companies to cut ties with their suppliers in Xinjiang due to the abuses against Uyghurs. Nike and Apple, which have strong interests in the autonomous region, have opened an investigation into the employment of Uyghur workers and other local minorities.

Disney has also come under the scrutiny of critics. The US animation giant shot some scenes of the film "Mulan" in Xinjiang, thanking the local authorities and the Chinese Communist Party for their help. Some activists pointed out that Disney thanked the Security Bureau in Turpan, a city where the existence of many internment camps was documented. In the meantime calls for a boycott of the movie are growing online.

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