US restricts imports from three more Chinese companies tied to forced labor

By Doina Chiacu and Karen Freifeld

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The United States restricted imports from three more Chinese companies on Tuesday as part of an effort to eliminate goods made with the forced labor of Uyghur minorities from the U.S. supply chain.

Xinjiang Tianmian Foundation Textile Co Ltd, Xinjiang Tianshan Wool Textile Co. Ltd and Xinjiang Zhongtai Group Co. Ltd were added to the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act Entity List, according to a government posting, bringing the total number of entities on the list to 27.

The three companies were designated as a result of their business practices involving Uyghur minorities and other persecuted groups, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security said in a statement.

“We do not tolerate companies that use forced labor, that abuse the human rights of individuals in order to make a profit,” Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas said in the statement.

The three companies were designated for working with the government of Xinjiang to recruit and transport, harbor or use the forced labor of Uyghurs, Kazakhs, Kyrgyz, or members of other persecuted groups out of the region, the United States said.

Xinjiang Tianmian Foundation Textile Co makes yarn and other textile products, the statement said. Xinjiang Zhongtai Group Co produces and sells polyvinyl chloride (PVC) and other textile, chemical and building materials. Xinjiang Tianshan Wool Textile Co sells cashmere and wool garments, among other products. All three are based in Xinjiang.

A 2021 law, the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act Entity List (UFLPA), prohibits importation of goods into the United States that are either produced in Xinjiang or by companies identified on the list unless the importer can prove that the goods were not produced with forced labor.

U.S. officials believe Chinese authorities have established labor camps for Uyghurs and other Muslim minority groups in China’s western Xinjiang region. Beijing denies any abuses.

The State Department later on Tuesday updated its business advisory on the Xingjiang supply chain to call attention to China’s “ongoing genocide and crimes against humanity in Xinjiang and the evidence of widespread use of forced labor there.”

It stressed the urgency for businesses to take due diligence measures, including identifying, assessing and acting on forced labor and human rights risks for workers.

Some Uyghur groups and activists have been frustrated by the pace and quality of enforcement of the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act. Senator Marco Rubio, who helped introduce the law, urged the Biden administration to add more companies to the list.

“There are potentially thousands of China-based companies and entities complicit in slave labor,” Rubio said in a statement. “The slow pace emboldens those profiting from slave labor.”

The United States in August banned goods from two China-based companies that were added to the list.

(Reporting by Doina Chiacu and Karen Freifeld; Editing by Andrea Ricci, Ros Russell and Mark Porter)