US widens blacklist of China-based firms over Uyghur forced labor concerns

Flags fly during a rally for the Uyghur people of China in Washington on Nov. 28, 2022. [Reuters]

Washington added more China-based companies to a blacklist Tuesday, barring their goods from entering the United States as officials seek to remove forced labor — especially involving minorities such as the Uyghur people — from supply chains.

Battery maker Camel Group, along with spice and extract company Chenguang Biotech Group, are the latest to be included in the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act (UFLPA) entity list, according to U.S. authorities.

The firms were targeted over accusations of working with China's government to recruit, transport or receive forced labor or members of persecuted groups such as Uyghur minorities out of the Xinjiang region.

"Today's additions demonstrate the United States' unwavering commitment to eliminating forced labor, including by ensuring that goods made by forced labor are not imported into our country," U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai said in a statement.

The U.S. government and lawmakers in other Western countries have labeled China's treatment of the Uyghur minority in the northwestern Xinjiang region "genocide" — a charge Beijing vehemently denies.

Rights groups said at least 1 million people, mostly members of Muslim minorities, have been incarcerated in the region and face widespread abuses, including forced sterilization of women and coerced labor.

In a separate statement on Tuesday, Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said, "We will continue to work with all of our partners to keep goods made with forced labor from Xinjiang out of U.S. commerce while facilitating the flow of legitimate trade."

The UFLPA, adopted by Congress with bipartisan support in 2021, bans the import of all goods from the Xinjiang region unless companies offer verifiable proof that production did not involve forced labor.

Apart from Tuesday's additions to the entity list, two other China-based companies — printer manufacturer Ninestar Corporation and chemical products firm Xinjiang Zhongtai Chemical Co. — were added earlier this year.