The banned items include cotton, computer parts, apparel and hair products made at a series of facilities in Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region, according to the US Customs and Border Protection (CBP).

People gather near the White House to call on the US government to respond to China's alleged abuses of a Muslim ethnic minority called the Uighurs, near the White House in Washington, US, July 3, 2020.
People gather near the White House to call on the US government to respond to China's alleged abuses of a Muslim ethnic minority called the Uighurs, near the White House in Washington, US, July 3, 2020. (Reuters)

The US on Monday blocked the import of certain goods from China’s Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region over allegations that they were manufactured using forced labour in internment camps.

The banned items include cotton, computer parts, apparel and hair products made at a series of facilities in Xinjiang region, according to the US Customs and Border Protection (CBP).

“By taking this action, DHS is combating illegal and inhumane forced labour, a type of modern slavery, used to make goods that the Chinese government then tries to import into the United States,” Acting Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Deputy Secretary Ken Cuccinelli said in a statement.

CBP will now seize any of the identified goods if they make it to US shores.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the directives to ban the goods, known as Withhold Release Orders (WROs), "demonstrate that the world will not stand for" China's "human rights abuses against Uyghurs and members of other Muslim minority groups in Xinjiang, which include subjecting individuals to forced labour and stripping them of their freedom and agency to choose how and where they work."

"These actions send a clear message to the PRC that it is time to end its practice of state-sponsored forced labour and to respect the human rights of all people," Pompeo said using an acronym referring to China.

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The US government uses an alternate spelling for "Uighur."

The decision to ban the goods comes as the Trump administration continues to take a tougher line on China's treatment of its Muslim-minority Uighur ethnic group.

In July, the US blacklisted a current and a former Chinese government official, as well as a paramilitary organisation accused of being instrumental in Beijing's crackdown on the Turkic-Muslim group.

The Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region is home to around 10 million Uighurs. The Turkic Muslim group, which makes up around 45 percent of region’s population, has long accused China's authorities of cultural, religious and economic discrimination.

Up to 1 million people, or about 7 percent of the Muslim population in the region, have been incarcerated in an expanding network of "political re-education" camps, according to US officials and UN experts.

Source: AA