China says will defend self over UK Xinjiang labour measures

BRITAIN-EU-BREXIT-POLITICS

The United States imported about $9 billion worth of cotton goods directly from China past year, according to the USA government.

UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab on Tuesday announced the new measures, which the Foreign Office says are created to ensure that all British organizations "are not complicit in, nor profiting from, the human rights violations in Xinjiang".

"This package put together will help make sure that no British organisations, government or private sector, deliberately or inadvertently are profiting from, or contributing to, human rights violations against the Uyghurs or other minorities in Xinjiang", he said.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection said the order applies to raw fibers, apparel and textiles made from Xinjiang-grown cotton, as well as canned tomatoes, sauces, seeds and other tomato products from the region, even if processed or manufactured in third countries.

"The so-called forced labor issue is a "lie of the century" fabricated out of thin air", said a foreign ministry spokesman, Zhao Lijian. That makes the USA ban a potential challenge for retailers or clothing brands that will be required to ensure their products are free of Xinjiang cotton.

Beijing has denied accusations of mistreatment, and says it's providing vocational training and helping to deradicalize segments of the population to combat alleged Islamic terrorism and violence.

British ministers are also looking to impose tougher export controls on goods and technology to China.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, in his final days in office, has been weighing a determination as to whether forced labor in Xinjiang constitutes an "atrocity" or labeling it "genocide", which analysts say would have significant implications for relations with China.

Estimates say the US ban affects about 20% of the global cotton supply.

According to the Telegraph report, the government is considering imposing heavier fines on companies that breach the terms of the legislation, along with new due diligence criteria that oblige firms to ensure that no one in their supply chain has been part of a forced-labour transfer scheme.

The U.S. action is the latest, and most sweeping, attempt to pressure China to end the campaign.

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