Washington, DC – The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) today welcomed the decision by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to issue five new Withhold Release Orders (WRO) due to concerns about forced labor and religious freedom violations in the region aimed towards Uyghur and other Muslims.
“This is an important step to keep goods that are produced using forced labor out of American markets,” USCIRF Commissioner Nury Turkel stated. “Thanks to U.S. leadership, Chinese companies now know that they cannot profit off the slavery of Uyghur Muslims.”
The WROs include all products made with labor from the Lop County No. 4 Vocational Skills Education and Training Center; hair products made in the Lop County Hair Product Industrial Park; apparel produced by Yili Zhuowan Garment Manufacturing Co., Ltd. and Baoding LYSZD Trade and Business Co., Ltd; cotton produced and processed by Xinjiang Junggar Cotton and Linen Co., Ltd.; and computer parts made by Hefei Bitland Information Technology Co., Ltd. in Anhui, China. In Fiscal Year 2020, CBP has issued 8 WROs on products from China.
According to the Congressional-Executive Commission on China and other reports, dozens of American and international companies are suspected of directly employing or sourcing from suppliers that use forced labor involving thousands of Uyghur and other Muslims. In July 2020, the U.S. government issued a business advisory on the risks of supply chains that rely on the forced labor in Xinjiang and elsewhere in China. The Department of Commerce also added 11 Chinese companies implicated in forced labor to the Entity List.
“If the cost of doing business in Xinjiang is compromising our values, that is too steep a price,” noted USCIRF Commissioner Gary Bauer. “USCIRF urges Congress to pass the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act swiftly to extend the administration’s policy to other products originating from Xinjiang.”
In its 2020 Annual Report, USCIRF called upon the administration to use its authority under the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act and the International Religious Freedom Act to impose targeted sanctions on Chinese officials responsible for severe religious freedom violations against Uyghur Muslims, Tibetan Buddhists, Christians, and Falun Gong practitioners.