2021-08-13 07:22:02 Banned Xinjiang Goods May Be Entering The US
Banned Xinjiang Goods May Be Entering The US
According to a report released on Tuesday, Chinese goods made by an organization linked to the mass detention of Muslims in Xinjiang may have made their way to US stores and consumers.
The Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps is a massive governmental and paramilitary organization with interests in a wide range of industries, and it oversees some of the mass internment camps and prisons where Muslim minorities are imprisoned.
Last month, BuzzFeed News discovered that China had built the capacity to imprison more than 1 million people in the region at any given time.
In the past, the Chinese government has framed the detention campaign as a professional development or education program aimed at preventing threats to social stability.
However, the United States and other governments have labeled it a genocide. The United States sanctioned the organization, known as the XPCC or bingtuan in Chinese, as well as two officials associated with it in July, citing “their connection to serious human rights violations against ethnic minorities in Xinjiang.”
The move effectively made doing business with XPCC illegal in the United States and made it more difficult for the organization to work with other countries. However, new research from a nonprofit based in Washington, DC shows that the XPCC’s many subsidiaries continue to export goods all over the world.
According to the report, some of the consumer goods made with those products, such as tomato sauce or textiles, are sold in the United States as well as in other countries such as Australia, Canada, and Germany. C4ADS, a group that reports on global conflict and security, identified 2,923 XPCC subsidiaries and investigated their business activities using business filings, trade records, and postings on a Chinese cotton industry trading site.
The group discovered that Grand Star, a Russian company, manufactures tomato products and sauces under the brand name Kubanochka. More than 150 shipments of tomato paste have been sent to Grand Star by two XPCC subsidiaries, Xinjiang Guannong Tomato Products and Xinjiang Wanda Co.
The report uncovered companies that buy goods from Xinjiang and send them elsewhere, but trade data does not reveal whether specific banned items arrived in the United States. It’s unclear whether the same tomatoes imported from Xinjiang were then shipped to the US, but it’s clear that Kubanochka’s branded tomato products are sold in the US, including international food stores.
A request for comment from Grand Star went unanswered. C4ADS also discovered that at least three XPCC subsidiary companies sell XPCC cotton despite being members of the Better Cotton Initiative, a global industry accreditation program that promotes ethical cotton sourcing.
The Better Cotton Initiative declined to comment on whether the activities of these companies violate its principles. Xiamen ITG, one of the three subsidiaries, is a supply chain management company worth nearly 14 billion yuan. According to government trade data compiled by Panjiva,
Xiamen ITG and its subsidiaries have supplied small and large North American retailers, including Walmart Canada and an Ohio-based military supply company called MMI Textiles, which has also provided protective equipment to hospitals. According to trade data, Xiamen ITG sent two shipments of polyester and cotton fabric to MMI in 2019, before the US began blocking Xinjiang cotton.
When asked about the shipments, MMI Textiles’ chief operating officer, Nick Rivera, stated that the company had stopped working with it in January 2019 and that MMI was “troubled to learn of the details which you described in your inquiry.”
Founded in 1954, just five years after China’s ruling Communist Party took power, the XPCC initially focused on resettling Han Chinese migrants in the Xinjiang region, which has historically been home to Uyghurs and other predominantly Muslim minority groups.
According to research published by Yajun Bao at the University of Oxford, approximately 86 percent of current XPCC members are Han Chinese. The XPCC is so powerful that Bao and other scholars have compared it to the Xinjiang regional government, with interests ranging from cotton farming to television and radio broadcasting.
The XPCC has thousands of subsidiaries and accounts for up to 21% of regional production, including manufacturing. “The XPCC is a primary perpetrator of mass detentions and forced labor in Xinjiang, and it has a massive economic footprint,” Irina Bukharin, the report’s lead researcher, said.
“It is also sanctioned, so understanding how it is still connected to the global economy is critical for understanding how sanctions and other measures targeting forced labor in the region fall short.”
In January, US Customs and Border Protection announced that all tomato and cotton products imported from Xinjiang would be detained. C4ADS discovered, however, that both types of products could be making their way to the United States, including via third-country transit.
The XPCC is China’s largest cotton producer and a major player in the tomato industry. Detaining shipments from the region is not always a straightforward process, owing in part to the fact that XPCC companies frequently sell their products through middlemen in other parts of China or other countries.
According to Ana Hinojosa, a Customs and Border Protection official, the difficulty in obtaining information about companies in Xinjiang presented a challenge for US regulators. “The XPCC is a massive organization. It has a lot of subsidiaries, and they shift and change a lot,” said Hinojosa, CBP’s executive director for trade remedy law enforcement.
“Keeping track of them is a difficult task.” “I believe there are probably some goods coming to the US that we aren’t aware of yet that are connected to the XPCC,” she added. Requests for comment were not returned by the XPCC.