Opinion >

Ban on Xinjiang goods anti-China skullduggery

Source: China Daily | 2022-06-23
Ban on Xinjiang goods anti-China skullduggery

A Uygur family harvests ripe grapes in Turpan, Northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region. [Photo/People's Daily Online]

This is an editorial from China Daily.

In yet another move to smear China's image and contain its development, the United States has started implementing an import ban on goods from the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region. The ban has been introduced on the grounds of fabricated "forced labor" claims.

US Customs and Border Protection began enforcing the "Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act" on Tuesday. It said that it would presume all products from Xinjiang are made with "forced labor" and therefore barred from import unless proved otherwise.

"We are rallying our allies and partners to make global supply chains free from the use of forced labor," US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a statement.

Yet despite the moral high ground the US tries to take, the pretext of forced labor in Xinjiang is simply misinformation and disinformation. China has explicitly banned forced labor. The US law is simply a means of targeting Xinjiang's competitive cotton and other goods.

Xinjiang is a key producer of cotton. But contrary to the US claim that the industry uses forced labor, it has already replaced manual labor with machinery. Mechanical cotton pickers do more than 80 percent of the cotton picking in the region. With wide use of advanced farming technologies and machinery, the region's cotton farming has basically bid farewell to the intensive use of manual labor.

So much for claims of forced labor.

Of course, facts and truth are of no interest to some politicians in Washington. These hawks have become increasingly desperate in their efforts to meet what they see as the unprecedented challenges posed by China. For that purpose, they are ready to go to any lengths, including resorting to lies about forced labor in Xinjiang, to counter China's rise.

Their machinations will inflict harm on the US as well. An estimated 20 percent of garments imported into the country each year contain some cotton from Xinjiang. Banning them will mean increased costs of living for US consumers, who are already feeling the pinch of rising inflation, which is now at a four-decade high.

Xinjiang also accounts for about 45 percent of the world's solar-grade polysilicon supply. Banning imports of solar panels and other products containing it would make it more difficult for the US to meet its target of cutting the cost of solar energy by 60 percent within the next 10 years. Not to mention how the move would further disrupt global industrial and supply chains and dampen the weak post-pandemic recovery.

The US law also serves a second purpose. It is intended as a destabilizer. It aims to stir up unrest, and join with those Uygurs in pushing Beijing "from internal places rather than external", as China's Foreign Ministry has pointed out.

Playing the anti-China game in such a way only belies the US' claim that it is willing to "compete with confidence". Washington should mend its ways. Its sharp practices are indiscriminately harmful.