U.S. Says China Is Targeting Companies That Bar Xinjiang Cotton

The U.S. accused China of a state-run social media campaign and boycott against companies that refuse to use cotton from the Xinjiang region over concern the crop is produced with forced labor by Muslim-minority Uyghurs.

China has targeted American, European and Japanese businesses that are avoiding Xinjiang cotton, State Department deputy spokeswoman Jalina Porter told reporters in a briefing on Friday. She said that amounts to a state-run “corporate and consumer boycott.”

“We support and encourage businesses to respect human rights in line with the U.N. guiding principles on business and human rights,” she said.

The statement was part of a broader effort to call out China and highlight allegations of forced labor and other abuses against Uyghurs in Xinjiang. The U.S. says the Chinese government has detained more than 1 million Uyghurs and other ethnic and religious minorities in “re-education” internment camps, allegations that Beijing denies.

Former President Donald Trump’s administration said China’s crackdown in Xinjiang amounted to genocide, a conclusion that current Secretary of State Antony Blinken said he agreed with.

In January, the U.S. began barring entry of all cotton products and tomatoes from Xinjiang. The order also applies to products manufactured in other countries that use cotton and tomatoes from the region.

The AFL-CIO, the largest U.S. labor organization, has demanded that President Joe Biden also block imports of solar products containing the metal polysilicon from Xinjiang on the grounds that it may involve forced labor.

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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