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US restricts Chinese clothing and tech products, citing forced labor

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Hefei Bitland is not a direct supplier to HP, an HP spokesperson said in a statement. We have strong policies in place to protect human rights and prohibit the use of involuntary labor of any kind throughout our supply chain. We are committed to ensuring that everyone in our supply chain is treated with dignity and respect.

US law prohibits the importation of any goods produced by forced labor. But human rights groups say the practice has long been prevalent in Xinjiang, where many detainees are recruited into programs that assign them to work in factories, cotton farms or textile factories.

Xinjiang accounts for about 85 percent of China’s cotton production, according to the US Department of Agriculture, and about one-fifth of global cotton production. Brands such as Muji, Uniqlo, Costco, Caterpillar, Lacoste, Ralph Lauren, Tommy Hilfiger and Hugo Boss have been cited in reports linking them to factories or materials in Xinjiang. Some companies have denied the allegations.

Amid tensions between President Trumps, the trade war and growing attention to human rights abuses in Xinjiang, some major clothing brands have tried to limit their exposure to the region in recent years, including by relocating their textile and clothing activities in Bangladesh, Indonesia and Vietnam. In July, sportswear maker Patagonia announced it was leaving Xinjiang and had told its global suppliers that the use of fibers made in the region was banned.

But human rights groups and industry analysts say supply chains in China remain opaque, allowing companies to profit from the involuntary labor of Uyghurs and other ethnic Muslims. Travel restrictions in Xinjiang can prevent companies from investigating their supply chains there, and companies that audit their suppliers can see only what Chinese factories want them to see.

Concerns about the prevalence of forced labor in these supply chains have led customs and border protection to establish more drastic restrictions on products made with cotton and fabrics from Xinjiang. On the morning of September 8, an agency official told the New York Times that import bans would cover supply chains from cotton, from yarn to textiles and clothing made in the Xinjiang Autonomous Region, as well as tomatoes and tomato paste.

But this order was never announced. Officials from the Department of Agriculture, the Treasury Department and the U.S. Trade Representative intervened to raise objections to the measure, saying it could threaten U.S. cotton exports to China or endanger the trade deal Mr. Trump signed with China in January, according to familiar sources. with the case said.

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