Over the past few weeks amidst escalating trade war tension the United States has taken aim at numerous Chinese entities citing their involvement in alleged human rights violations occurring throughout China’s Xinjiang province.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Wednesday the measures target those “who are believed to be responsible for, or complicit in, the detention and abuse of Uighurs, Kazakhs, or other members of Muslim minority groups” in Xinjiang, China.
The Trump administration has denounced China’s actions in Xinjiang for a little over a year, but no official action had been taken till now.
Last week, Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) issued a detention order against a Chinese apparel company with ties to the United States, claiming the company produced its products using forced labor in Xinjiang.
On Monday, U.S. Department of Commerce announced export restrictions on 28 Chinese entities, including regional government agencies, local police and security technology companies.
The State Department announced on Wednesday it would ban certain Chinese officials and their immediate family members from obtaining U.S. visas, citing their ties to human rights violations in Xinjiang.
The Chinese government is accused of turning Xinjiang into a mass-surveillance state — where the U.N. says it has detained over a million Muslims, some of whom are allegedly subject to forced labor according to the U.S. Department of Commerce.
The re-education camps
Located throughout Xinjiang are what the Chinese government calls “vocational centers.” These centers were established “to eradicate the breeding soil of extremism and terrorism,” according to the Chinese government.
Contrary to their title, human rights experts refer to these centers as “re-education camps,” while others call them “internment” or “concentration” camps. These camps currently house over a million Muslim people, according to the United Nations.
“These are truly internment camps where these people are being treated in ways that are fundamentally inconsistent with what China would have you believe, and in ways that — when the world finds out — we will all regret,” U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told ABC News earlier this year.
ABC News has spoken to several sources who claimed to have been in the camps. Each described different forms of torture — ranging from sleep deprivation to starvation. The Chinese government has denied all allegations of torture within these facilities.
CBP issued detention orders on goods imported from five countries based on allegations that people producing those items might be children or adults subjected to forced labor. The orders are used to hold shipping containers at U.S. ports of entry until CBP can investigate the claims of wrongdoing.
Heitan Taida, a Chinese apparel company, was one of the companies slapped with detention orders. Last year, The Associated Press reported that Heitan Taida was forcing Muslims to sew garments for U.S. importers inside a Chinese re-education camp.
Hetian Taida did not respond to emails from ABC News Wednesday. In a previous conversation with the AP, Wu Hongbo, the company’s chairman, said that although Hetian Taida was located in a compound shared by a camp, Hetian Taida was not involved in the camp’s activities.