Forced labor concerns prompt US lawmakers to demand ban on seafood from two Chinese provinces


WASHINGTON (AP) — A group of U.S. lawmakers wants the Biden administration to ban seafood processed in two Chinese provinces from entering the U.S. market because of concerns about rights abuses. They also say that Chinese facilities using forced labor should be banned from doing business with American companies.

The request was sent Tuesday by the chairs of the Congressional-Executive Commission on China to the Department of Homeland Security. The commission is a congressional group charged with monitoring China’s compliance with international human rights standards.

It’s the latest effort by U.S. lawmakers to restrict imports of Chinese goods on the grounds of rights abuse, a move that is certain to irk Beijing at a time of tensions over trade and other issues.

The commission cited investigations by the nonprofit journalist organization The Outlaw Ocean Project that revealed human rights abuses on China’s fishing fleet and the forced labor of ethnic Uyghurs from the northwestern region of Xinjiang in seafood processing plants in the eastern Chinese province of Shandong. It said the sanctions would be necessary to comply with U.S. laws prohibiting the entry of goods made with forced labor.

The commission said there was also emerging evidence of up to 80,000 North Koreans working in seafood processing in the northeastern Chinese province of Liaoning.

China has rejected the allegation that Uyghurs have been forced to work in factories far from their homes and says its programs are intended to create better-paying jobs for them and are welcomed by the Uyghurs. Beijing accuses Washington of using the issue as a pretext to curb its rise.

China has been accused of the mass detention, repression and political indoctrination of Uyghurs, most of whom identify as Muslims.

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