US may ban cotton imports from China's Xinjiang region, where Muslim minorities face human-rights atrocities

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  • The US government may ban cotton that is produced in the Xinjiang region of China, where Beijing is violating the human rights of minority-Muslim populations, the New York Times reported.
  • The ban, which could arrive on Tuesday, would have huge implications for fashion brands around the world. Xinjiang is one of the globe's major cotton-producing regions.
  • The ban is designed to pressure Beijing over its treatment of Muslim minorities, who are forced to work and live in detention camps in the region for little or no pay.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

The US government could ban cotton imports from the Xinjiang region of China, where Beijing has committed human rights atrocities against minority Muslim populations, including forcibly sterlising women.

The US could introduce the ban as soon as Tuesday, the New York Times reported. It would have major implications for clothes manufacturers around the world: China is the world's biggest supplier of cotton products and more than 80% of the country's cotton comes from Xinjiang.

It is not clear whether the ban will only cover cotton items exported from Xinjiang, or be extended to products that contain Xinjiang cotton but come to the US from a different country, the paper reported.

The ban would be designed to pressure Beijing over its treatment of Muslim minorities, mainly Uighurs, who are forced to work and live in detention camps for little or no pay. Torture, sterilisation of Uighur women, and forced separation are just some oppression tactics that they face.

A report written by more than 180 human rights groups in July named 38 companies that sell items stemming from forced Muslim labor, including Adidas, H&M, and Tommy Hilfiger. Many companies named in the report pledged to investigate their supply chains, and some, including Adidas and Tommy Hilfiger, denied sourcing any goods from factories in Xinjiang.

US lawmakers proposed legislation in March that would prohibit the import of any products made by forced labor in Xinjiang. However, President Donald Trump told China's President Xi Jinping in 2019 that building concentration camps for millions of Uighur Muslims was "exactly the right thing to do," according to former Trump adviser John Bolton.

On Friday, it emerged that Disney filmed parts of its live-action remake of Mulan in Xinjiang. The movie thanks the Chinese Communist Party Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region Committee and the Bureau of Public Security in the city of Turpan in the end credits.

The US government put the bureau on the Entity List of the Export Administration Regulations back in July 2020, saying it was involved in human rights violations and the oppression of Uighurs.

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