US bars imports from 3 more Chinese companies over Uyghur forced labor

By Karen Freifeld

NEW YORK (Reuters) -The United States restricted imports from three more Chinese companies, including COFCO Sugar Holding, over forced labor practices involving Uyghurs and other minorities in China, the U.S. government said on Friday.

The companies – which produce everything from sugar to network transformers to yarn – will be added to the Ugyhur Forced Labor Prevention Act Entity List, said a posting in the Federal Register. The list restricts the import of goods tied to what the U.S. government has characterized as an ongoing genocide of minorities in China’s Xinjiang region.

The addition of COFCO Sugar Holding, Sichuan Jingweida Technology Group and Anhui Xinya New Materials will bring the total number of companies on the list to 30.

Chinese embassy spokesperson Liu Pengyu said the action was “based on lies” and that the U.S. was “essentially undermining Xinjiang’s prosperity and stability and curbing China’s development.”

“China is firmly opposed to this and will take effective measures to firmly safeguard the legitimate rights and interests of Chinese enterprises.”

Since June 2022, U.S. Customs and Border Protection has reviewed over 6,000 shipments valued at more than $2 billion as a result of the Ugyhur Forced Labor Protection Act, which was signed into law in 2021, according to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. The act denies entry to goods from listed companies unless they can prove they were not produced with or tied to forced labor.

“The Department of Homeland Security remains committed to eradicating the use of forced labor and holding organizations accountable for their human rights abuses,” Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas said in a statement.

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 U.S. said the three companies added to the list worked with government programs to transfer persecuted minorities to work at their facilities.

COFCO Sugar is one of the largest sugar traders in China and also produces and exports tomato paste. Headquartered in Xinjiang, it is part of the COFCO Group.

Jingweida Technology in Sichuan Province produces transformers, network and radio frequency filters, and other devices.

Anhui Xinya New Materials produces fiber yarns and other textiles.

COFCO and Jingweida Technology did not immediately respond to requests for comment. Xinya New Materials could not immediately be reached.

(Reporting by Karen Freifeld; Additional reporting by Doina Chiacu; Editing by Jonathan Oatis, Kirsten Donovan)