US to ban some exports from China amid human rights abuses

The US will ban some exports from China's Xinjiang region after reports of alleged human rights abuses.

Kenneth Cuccinelli, the Department of Homeland Security's acting secretary, said: "These extraordinary human rights violations demand an extraordinary response."

US Customs and Border Protection officials issued orders for agents to hold shipments from four commercial entities, one training centre and an industrial park that they suspect have handled goods made with forced labour, citing the power of a 1930s law that declared the importation of those goods illegal.

The move is part of the US governments plan to put pressure on China over the situation in Xinjiang.

It is believed that up to 2 million Muslim minorities in Xinjiang have been imprisoned in mass re-education centres, including huge numbers of the Uyghur people, according to the US State Department, with reports emerging from the camps of abuse, indoctrination and sterilisation.

The Chinese government has described the centres as voluntary and part of a wide-reaching deradicalisation campaign.

The US acting commissioner of the customs and border protection agency, Mark Morgan, accused the Chinese government of “systematic abuses against the Uighur people” and other minorities.

“Forced labour is an atrocious human rights abuse,” Mr Morgan said.

"The Trump administration will not stand idly by and allow foreign companies to subject vulnerable workers to forced labour while harming American businesses that respect human rights and the rule of law," he added.

In July, the customs agency banned hair products, used for wigs and extensions, from several companies operating in Xinjiang, and in August did the same for garments made and sold by the Hero Vast Group.

China produces about 20% of the world's cotton with most of it coming from Xinjiang. The region is also a major source of petrochemicals.