U.S. Bluntly Tells China it's Responsible for Torture, Rape, Imprisonment in Xinjiang

The U.S. Department of Labor and five other agencies accused China of carrying out crimes against humanity including "imprisonment, torture, rape, forced sterilization and persecution" against Uyghurs and other ethnic and religious minorities in Xinjiang, in a press release on Tuesday.

Companies and individuals with ties to the area were warned that those who choose to continue doing business with Xinjiang "run a high risk" of violating U.S. laws against child and forced labor practices.

"The labor and human rights abuses against Uyghurs and other minorities in Xinjiang, China, are egregious, systematic and ongoing," said U.S. Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh. "Any company doing business in this region should take heed: these are reprehensible and illegal practices, and the goods produced under these conditions have no place in the U.S. economy."

For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below.

Uyghur Protests
The U.S. Department of Labor warned that any company continuing to do business with the Xinjiang region runs the risk of violating U.S. law. Pictured, the East Turkistan National Awakening Movement (ETNAM) holds a demonstration in front of the World Bank's Headquarters in Washington DC, on December 20, 2019, to protest funding of Chinese Vocational Training Centers where Uyghurs are being held involuntarily. (Photo by Olivier Douliery / AFP) (Photo by OLIVIER DOULIERY/AFP via Getty Images) Olivier Douliery/AFP via Getty Images

China's government rejected U.S. accusations of forced labor in Xinjiang and accused Washington on Thursday of hurting global trade after lawmakers endorsed import curbs and American companies were warned they face legal risks if they do business with the region.

The measures add to rising pressure on companies that buy clothing, cotton, tomatoes and other goods from Xinjiang, where the ruling Communist Party is accused of holding more than 1 million members of mostly Muslim ethnic groups in detention camps. Washington has blocked some imports, while Beijing has whipped up Chinese consumer anger at brands that express concern about possible forced labor.

"The so-called human rights and forced labor issues in Xinjiang are completely inconsistent with the facts," said a Ministry of Commerce spokesman, Gao Feng.

"The U.S. approach has seriously undermined the security and stability of the global industrial chain and supply chain," he said. "China firmly opposes it."

Gao gave no indication of possible Chinese retaliation.

The latest measure approved Wednesday by the U.S. Senate would block imports of goods made with forced labor in Xinjiang. The bill requires approval from the House of Representatives.

Chinese officials deny accusations of abuses in Xinjiang. They say the camps are for job training and combating radicalism.

Washington and the European Union have imposed travel and financial sanctions on Chinese officials accused of abuses in Xinjiang. The United States has blocked imports of cotton, tomatoes and materials to make solar panels from companies suspected of using forced labor.

Beijing retaliated by announcing unspecified penalties against American and European officials, a European think tank and two European researchers who study Xinjiang.

State TV called for a boycott of Swedish retailer H&M after it joined other brands in expressing concern about reports of forced labor in Xinjiang. State media have publicized calls by individual Chinese for boycotts of Nike, Adidas, Uniqlo and other global shoe and clothing brands.

Xinjiang
FILE - In this April 23, 2021, file photo, a person stands in a tower on the perimeter of the Number 3 Detention Center in Dabancheng in western China's Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region. China’s government rejected U.S. accusations of forced labor in Xinjiang and accused Washington on Thursday, July 15, 2021, of hurting global trade after lawmakers endorsed import curbs and American companies were warned they face legal risks if they keep doing business with the region. Mark Schiefelbein, File/AP Photo